Woman hurt in destructive Montana avalanche dies

Tuesday - 3/4/2014, 2:24am EST

Rescuers dig at the scene of an avalanche in Missoula's Rattlesnake Valley on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. The avalanche roared into a residential neighborhood and destroyed a house, but three people were found alive amid the snow and wreckage, police said. The survivors were an elderly couple and an 8-year-old boy, police Sgt. Travis Welsh said. St. Patrick Hospital spokeswoman says the three remained hospitalized Saturday, a day after the avalanche slid down Mount Jumbo into the northeast Missoula neighborhood. The hospital says 66-year-old Fred Allendorf is in serious condition while his wife, Michel Colville, is in critical condition. An 8-year-old boy whose name hasn't been released is in fair condition. (AP Photo/The Missoulian, Tom Bauer)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- A woman who was rescued about three hours after her Missoula home was destroyed by an avalanche has died.

About 100 neighbors converged to help find 68-year-old Michel Colville, her husband and an 8-year-old boy, who were buried Friday when the avalanche swept down a mountain and crushed the couple's house in a residential area of the western Montana city.

Colville died Sunday night at St. Patrick Hospital, Missoula police said Monday. Her husband, Fred Allendorf, remained hospitalized in serious condition.

Allendorf was buried for about two hours before rescuers found him in an air pocket created by a fallen chimney in their house at the base of Mount Jumbo.

Eight-year-old Phoenix Scoles-Coburn and his 10-year-old sister, Coral, were outside playing when the slide hit at 4 p.m. Friday. Coral was able to dig herself out of the snow, but Phoenix was buried for about an hour. He was able to survive due to an air pocket in the debris, officials have said.

Steve Karkanen, director of the West Central Montana Avalanche Center, said a snowboarder trigged the avalanche. The snowboarder was briefly caught in the avalanche but managed to get out of the slide before it picked up speed, Karkanen said.

No charges have been filed but Missoula police said they will meet with prosecutors this week to discuss their investigation and any potential criminal culpability, the Missoulian reported.

City officials reminded residents Monday that Mount Jumbo and Mount Sentinel are closed to the public. Police also warned residents at the base of Mount Jumbo that the risk of another avalanche was heightened for the next 48 hours because the forecast calls for freezing rain followed by more snow.

No evacuation orders have been issued, but the city asked volunteers who were working to recover belongings from Allendorf's house to leave the area due to the increased risk.


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