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Aug 11, 2013 12:50 AM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Circumstances of flood victim's death may never be known

As Manitou Springs residents cleaned up the debris left by Friday's flash flood on Saturday, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office released the identity of the man who was killed in the floodwaters but said the circumstances of his death may never be known.

John Collins, 53, of Teller County was found dead under a pile of debris late Friday night at mile-marker 297 on the westbound lanes of Highway 24. Flood waters filled with mud and heavy debris swept dozens of cars of the road at around 6 p.m. on Friday. The coroner's office believes Collins drowned.

Collins was a regular customer at Bite on the Creek Wine Tasting in Cascade. Friends there said he owned a business in Divide.

"We were shocked, we just couldn't believe it, as a matter of fact he just ate here two nights ago," explained Bite on the Creek owner Melvin Parliament. "He was a gentle giant, a big man, very, very pleasant and outgoing and you know he always had a story to tell."

Collins was found buried in debris outside of his car, which was also found on Highway 24. How he ended up outside his car may remain a mystery according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

"We may never know the answer to the question of whether or not he got out of his car by choice or was taken from the car because of the force of the rushing water and debris," Lt. Jeff Kramer explained during a press conference on Saturday night.

Two people remain missing after Friday night's flood. A petite, blond woman was seen clinging to a tree along Fountain Creek and has not been identified or found. Juston Travis, 24, is identified as a homeless person who had been staying in Manitou Springs has not been seen since the flooding.

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