An avalanche hit and destroyed the house of Hinsdale County Sheriff Justin Casey just south of Lake City early Tuesday morning, but Casey and his two daughters, who were inside, are all expected to recover from their injuries.
Around 6 a.m., the slide hit the home, injuring Casey and his daughters, Sarah and Kristy.
Sandy Hines, administrative assistant for Hinsdale County told The Durango Herald that the family is expected to fully recover from their injuries.
“Everything about it is literally miraculous,” Hines said.
The Lake City Silver World Newspaper on Facebook identified Sarah as 17 years old and Kristy as 15 years old.
A GoFundMe fundraising page for the family had raised nearly $4,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Hinsdale County Commissioner Stan Whinnery said the avalanche came down a path known as Sunshine, which hasn’t run in recent memory. Consequently, there was no previous indication that the area and homes were at risk of avalanche danger, he said.
But recent heavy snow set up extreme avalanche danger. The National Weather Service in Grand Junction did not have snow totals for Lake City, but it recorded nearly 17 inches of new snow overnight Monday to Tuesday at a weather station in Creede, about 50 miles to the southeast.
The slide, Whinnery said, hit only Casey’s home, near Lake San Cristobal, on Hinsdale County Road 30, and destroyed it. About 15 other homes are in the area, and they have all been evacuated, he said.
Hines said Casey extricated himself and called 911. About 15 emergency personnel responded to the scene and were able to rescue Casey’s daughters. In all, it took about an hour to recover everyone and give medical attention.
Hines said Casey and Sarah suffered minor injuries. Kristy suffered more serious injuries, but her condition was improving as of Tuesday afternoon, Hines said.
“Everything that could have gone right, for the family, did,” she said.
Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, said a staff member was sent to investigate the avalanche, and preliminary information indicates it was a naturally triggered slide.
He did not have more information about the incident Tuesday morning.
Hines said other residents in possible dangerous terrain have been asked to voluntarily evacuate. She said Lake City Armory, the town’s community center, has been set up as a shelter.
She said four major avalanches have run in the past few days around Lake City. With more snow expected Tuesday night, she said the avalanche danger is still extreme.
“Because Lake City is situated at the bottom of a big valley ... anyone that might be concerned about their house that sits at the bottom of steep slopes are being asked voluntarily evacuate,” she said.
Earlier Tuesday, incorrect information was given to The Durango Herald about the injuries to the family inside the house hit by an avalanche. That information was corrected around 4 p.m. firstname.lastname@example.org