COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – A 17-year-old girl drowned after she was caught in heavy rain in Colorado Springs as storms pounded a region still reeling from mudslides and flash flooding that killed one person in nearby Manitou Springs last week.
The El Paso County coroner’s office on Tuesday identified the victim as Rose Hammes. Authorities say she died from drowning and blunt force trauma believed caused by hitting rocks in a local drainage canal that was flooding in Colorado Springs.
The body was found around midnight after the girl’s parents told authorities their daughter called Monday to say she was caught in a storm and planned to wait it out under a bridge. She was found about 3 miles from where she told her parents she was taking shelter.
“I called and asked her if she wanted me to pick her up but she didn’t know where she was at the time and she said she was going to take cover under a bridge,” Rose Hammes’ mother Kristine Hammes said.
Rescue teams were able to “ping” the girl’s cellphone to find the last location before losing cellphone service. Crews searched 4 hours and when they found the teen’s shirt along a creek and they shifted to recovery mode.
Weather forecasters issued a flash flood watch for more storms on Tuesday, stressing that the watch included the entire region, not just areas inside or below wildfire burn scars.
Friday’s mudslides and flooding struck after about 1.3 inches of rain fell in an area above Manitou Springs that had been burned by the Waldo Canyon Fire last year. That fire destroyed 347 homes, killed two people and burned more than 28 square miles.
Areas burned by wildfires are vulnerable to flash floods because the scorched soil absorbs less water.
El Paso County sheriff’s deputies said John Collins, 53, of Teller County, was killed by Friday’s mudslide, which pushed onto U.S. 24.
Collins was found buried beneath debris outside of his vehicle. It was unclear if Collins left his vehicle on his own or if the debris and water forced him from it.
The city, county and U.S. Forest Service are trying to blunt the effects of flooding by building basins in the burn area to catch sediment.
On Tuesday, mud, boulders and debris lined the streets of Manitou Springs, a quirky tourist town wedged in red rock hills between Pikes Peak and Colorado Springs. A few sightseers strolled through downtown as did workers in knee-high rubber boots or hip waders. The clatter of power washers and the beeps of heavy equipment filled the air.
Donna Stone was gathering things of sentimental value from her rented house and glancing nervously at dark gray clouds overhead. Friday’s flood surged up against the back of her house; she expected another flood will swamp it. “I’ve already said goodbye to my stuff,” she said.
Two signs hung in the windows of a gift shop called Five. “Thank you for cleaning our town,” one said.
The other said, “Umbrellas here.”
- By Dan Elliott, AP Writer
Associated Press writer Steven Paulson contributed to this report.
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