Collbran residents pack memorial service for 3 men lost in massive mudslide

COLLBRAN, Colo. - A massive landslide is a powerful force, but, as one of the attendees jammed into the Plateau Valley High School gym for a memorial service Sunday noted, it is no match for the power of the deep ties in this grieving community.

Cars were backed up for seven miles on Colorado 330 before the service for the three men who died a week ago in a landslide. More than 1,000 people overflowed the gym where a section designated for "immediate family" held more than 200 people. More than 50 search and rescue members and firefighters from the Plateau Valley and surrounding departments stood in the front of the gym in their yellow fireproof shirts. Two of the victims were volunteer firefighters.

Family members brought attendees to tears as they talked of their loss. Their passing was commemorated with one moment of silence. The packed gym went silent at 5:44 p.m. -- one week, to the minute, from when Wesley Melvin Hawkins, Clarence Allen Nichols and Daniel Allen Nichols were buried in the monster slide that experts say bore down on them so quickly, there was no chance to escape.

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