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Hundreds honor 3 men lost in Colorado mudslide

By: Associated Press
June 2, 2014 Updated: June 2, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Hundreds stood in a packed gym at the Plateau Valley School for the memorial service for the three lost in the Mesa County mudslides, Sunday, June 1, 2014, in Collbran, Colo. (AP Photo/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Dean Humphrey)

COLLBRAN — Hundreds of people turned out Sunday to honor the lives of the three men lost in a massive mudslide last week in western Colorado.

People from the Collbran area packed the Plateau Valley School gymnasium to remember 51-year-old Clarence Allen "Clancy" Nichols, 46-year-old Melvin Wesley Hawkins, and 24-year-old Daniel Allen Nichols, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/1gVYqL1 ).

Authorities say they were swept away in a mudslide a half-mile wide and three miles long May 25, about 11 miles south of Collbran.

They had been checking on irrigation problems caused by an initial slide when a large chunk of a ridge broke off, sending soggy earth spilling like wet cement. Their bodies have not been found.

The Daily Sentinel said it was a solemn ceremony for the estimated 200 family members and about 800 friends and supporters.

During the service, each of the three was honored with a eulogy, and relatives also thanked rescuers who responded to the slide, many of whom were in the audience.

Family members addressed the crowd, sometimes choking up as they spoke of their loved ones' lives, hopes, and dreams.

Kayla Hawkins said Wesley was especially proud of his community.

"He cared about the people here, and would do what it took to take care of you all. He left that day with only one thought in mind, to take care of his community," Hawkins said.

A cousin to all three, Evonne Stites, offered prayers, stories of each man and read letters from family members, many of whom listened with teary eyes and sometimes, laughter.

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