COLLBRAN, Colo. In day three of search efforts to find Danny and Clancy Nichols and Wesley Hawkins, who are lost after the massive mudslide near Collbran, Sheriff Stan Hilkey said the effort has unfortunately turned from a rescue to a recovery mission.
Sheriff Hilkey delivered the news to the families and while they want to continue looking for them the terrain is just too dangerous for search crews, "What we would like to do is have every inch of this being covered with people if we could but we don't want to create anymore of a tragedy than we already have."
While the families start to deal with the idea of their lives without these men all they have left are the good memories to think about.
Clancy's niece Lori Latham said, "Uncle Clancy is truly a selfless man that loved his family and instilled great ethics and values in his sons. It is with a heavy heart to say my family, his friends, the community and this world will sadly be without."
According to Latham, Clancy's other son Matthew is a volunteer firefighter and was helping search for his dad and brother. She said the three of them were best friends and the boys always had their dad by their side.
The families have to face is the possibility that their body's will never be found, "That's a very difficult thing to acknowledge but I believe the family has acknowledged that and we have acknowledged that but it doesn't deter our interest in doing everything we possibly can," Sheriff Hilkey.
Wes Hawkins' family tells the Mesa County Sheriff's Office that he worked for the Collbran Conservancy District as the District Water Manager for the last 23 years. They said his responsibility to the community and its safety led him to the area that the slide occurred in. Wes is leaving behind five children and a wife of 27 years.