Four killed, two injured in Wyoming flash flood

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 19, 2011 5:38 PM
Four killed, two injured in Wyoming flash flood

By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Four people were killed and two others injured on Tuesday after their cars were swept into a stream by flash floods in south central Wyoming, authorities said.

The four people who died and one of the injured were members of a family traveling in one of the two vehicles claimed by high water between midnight and 2 a.m., Wyoming Highway Patrol Sergeant Stephen Townsend said.

The early morning washout also swept away an emergency vehicle driven by a Carbon County, Wyoming worker who was rescued by motorists, officials said.

Both of the injured were taken to a local hospital.

The accidents happened after torrential rains on Monday night prompted an evacuation of popular campgrounds in the forest after midnight on Tuesday, Carbon County Undersheriff Mike Morris said.

The family was seeking to leave a campsite and the emergency worker was trying to alert campers to the danger when they drove into the washout, which hit a 25-foot stretch of highway that intersected a flood-swollen creek, authorities said.

The names of victims were being withheld pending notification of relatives.

Rescue crews combed the area on foot and by air on Tuesday but found no signs other people had been caught in the flooding, which damaged or destroyed other roads and bridges in the Medicine Bow Forest, Morris said.

"The set of circumstances these folks were dealing with was unusual," he said, describing an evacuation of campers on water-logged roads amid heavy rains and darkness.

David Kingham, spokesman for the Wyoming Department of Transportation, said the hours-long storm that broke out in the forest Monday night brought as much as 1.25 inches of rain an hour.

Kingham said the area, just north of the Colorado border, already was saturated by runoff from the late melting of mountain snows. He said debris borne by flood waters likely blocked the roadway's culverts, further weakening the structure.

State troopers said Tuesday 32 miles of the highway, known as the Snowy Range Road, would be closed for repairs.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)