Two families who had to evacuate their homes next to a deadly rock slide in a small Washington County town were unable to return to their houses Saturday, and when they may be able to return remains unknown.
A massive boulder in the rockslide crushed a house near State Road 9 on Thursday afternoon in the town of Rockville, killing Maureen Morris, 65, and Jeff Elsey, 58, both of whom were inside their home when the slide occurred. The families on the east and west side of the destroyed house — one of which is the town’s mayor-elect, Tracy Dutson — were forced to evacuate for safety reasons.
“It’s hard to say,” Springdale Police Chief Kurt Wright said about when the two families will be able to return. “We’re just trying to settle down and get our heads together and see what the next move will be.”
Wright said authorities likely will not remove the boulder, and most of the couple’s personal belongings will not be retrieved from the home because of the size of the slide.
“We’re just going to leave it as is,” Wright said of the boulder. “We don’t have any equipment here in Washington County that can even touch it, it’s so massive. Our initial thoughts were to dynamite the boulder, but we’re fearing it may cause other slides.”
A memorial service for the victims had not been planned by Saturday, he said. The bodies were retrieved from the scene Friday.
The chief said heavy snowfall and low temperatures were to blame for the slide. This year has produced the most snow in Rockville in a century, he said.