CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The couple and their three daughters had just fled their Wyoming campsite when a raging mountain creek swept their van downstream, claiming the lives of the girls and their mother.
It was between 1:15 a.m. and 1:40 a.m. Tuesday. Alex and Laurel Constantinides were about 20 miles from the southern Wyoming town of Saratoga with their daughters - Hanna, 8, Zoey, 5, and Lucia, 2.
Officials said debris in the creek had blocked large culverts that run under the highway and the water then tore through the roadway, opening a 25-foot-wide, 9-foot-deep breach.
The family’s 1991
Minutes later, a local emergency management official who was responding to the accident hit the washout and plunged into South Brush Creek.
“I consider myself very fortunate. I was wondering if I was going to see my family again, to be quite honest with you,’’ John Zeiger, Carbon County emergency management coordinator, said in a telephone interview from his hospital bed.
Zeiger remained in Carbon County Memorial Hospital yesterday, listed in stable condition.
At one point the water washed over his vehicle, but the water inside got no higher than his waist, Zeiger said, noting the car windows were up and didn’t break. He was rescued after about two hours.
Other responders retrieved the bodies of Laurel Constantinides, 39, and her daughters.