Families of Missoula Avalanche Victims Grateful for Support

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA — The families of Missoula’s avalanche victims and the county sheriff say they’re grateful for the community’s continuing support after last week’s snow slide that buried three people and led to the death of one woman.

An avalanche that roared down Mount Jumbo on Friday afternoon destroyed a house, buried a boy playing outside and a couple inside. Within minutes, dozens of neighbors arrived with shovels and avalanche poles to help find the victims.

Eight-year-old Phoenix Scoles-Coburn was recovered after an hour. Retired University of Montana professor Fred Allendorf was pulled from the snow and debris in his house about two hours after the slide. His wife, Michele Colville, was buried for three hours. She died Sunday night.

Charis Patterson says her mother will be missed by many.

“The family also wishes to share their thanks for the love that they continue to receive and for the public’s understanding and continued support in the long and difficult road that they still have going forward,” Patterson wrote.

A family friend of Phoenix Scoles-Coburn thanked people for making financial donations, but said they are now asking for clothing and toys because the monetary donations could hurt the family’s Medicaid eligibility.

The Missoulian reports organizers are seeking legal assistance that would allow them to tap the financial resources already donated.

Missoula County Sheriff Carl Ibsen also expressed his gratitude to the people who responded after the slide and those who helped recover items from Allendorf and Colville’s house.

“One of the greatest assets about Missoula is the ability and willingness of so very many people to come to the aid of others, even when they do not know them,” Ibsen wrote Tuesday.

“Thank you, Missoula,” he said. “You make this a terrific place to live and work.”

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