The massive flooding across Boulder County has claimed the lives of at least two people and left one woman missing, and officials fear more casualties may be discovered as crews begin to make their way into the mountain towns and heavily affected areas.
The first casualty was a man who was killed in a structure collapse in Jamestown early Thursday morning. The second fatality was a man killed in the 200 block of Linden Drive in Boulder later that morning after being swept away from his car. A woman who was with that victim is now also missing.
While those are the only two confirmed fatalities, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said officials are worried that as crews begin cleanup efforts, more casualties could be discovered.
"We're bracing for the worst," Pelle said.
Officials have not identified either of the two victims yet, but news has spread to friends about who the men possibly were.
Jamestown residents told The Denver Post they fear the victim in Jamestown is Joey Howlett, 72, the former owner of the Jamestown Mercantile Café. They said he was missing and his bedroom is buried under 12 feet of rock, mud and debris, according to a half-dozen friends, neighbors and city officials.
"We lost a good friend here last night," said Richard Jenkins, who has known Howlett for 30 years. "He was like the town patriarch. He was everybody's friend."
Howlett, formerly from Portland, Ore., moved to Jamestown in 1969. He bought the business known by locals as "The Merc" in 1992 before selling it in 2010.
"He was one of the prime characters in town," said John Bernart, 51, who has known Howlett since the mid 1990s.
As for the man killed by flooding in the 200 block of Linden Drive, friends believe the victim is Wesley Quinlan, a recent graduate of Centaurus High School.
Sheriff's Cmdr. Heidi Prentup said the couple was driving and had "some type of interaction" with water near Linden Avenue -- though she couldn't confirm whether the car got stuck.
"She got out, and the water swept her away," Prentup said.
The young man in the car got out to try to rescue her, but he was swept away, too, Prentup said.
Prentup said the woman is still missing.
Officials have not identified the victim, but Quinlan's Facebook page had numerous messages indicating the teen had died, including one that mentioned the flood.
"You did a heroic thing trying to save the one you loved from the flood," Bailey Vanity wrote on Quinlan's page.
The Denver Post contributed to this report. Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.