Rockslide in Rockville, one home destroyed, 2 fatalities; STGnews photo gallery

Rockslide in Rockville destroys a home, Rockville, Utah, Dec. 12, 2013 | Photo by Dan Mabbutt, St, George News

UPDATED 7:30 p.m. 

ROCKVILLE – A large rockslide in Rockville at the west end of the town has completely demolished a home on the 300 West Block of Main Street and two people are confirmed dead.

“Anyone in the home is deceased,” Sgt. Garen Brecke of the Springdale Police Department said at 7:18 p.m., “they have identified two people deceased at this time. We don’t think there are anymore at this time.”

Before the bodies were located, neighbors said two people were known to live in the home. No names of the bodies identified are being released Thursday night, Brecke said.

The cause of the rockslide remains under investigation. Crews going through the rubble have been called off until morning along with the search and rescue units, to resume Friday morning.

“It’s still under investigation why it slid,” Brecke said. “It seems like it’s natural. I have not been told that we’re in danger of a second one.”

The rockslide was reported to the St. George Communications Center around 5 p.m. and emergency crews from multiple agencies responded. Springdale Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, Rockville-Springdale Fire Department, Hurricane Fire Department, St. George Fire Department and emergency services from Zion National Park.

The slide did not reach state Route 9, which passes through the town, though the Utah Highway Patrol is reportedly handling traffic in the area. Multiple emergency units from the surrounding area responded to the scene.

St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic and Assistant Editor Mori Kessler contributed to this report.

UPDATED in full at 7:30 p.m.

CORRECTION Dec. 13. The rockslide occurred at the west end of town, not the south end, as originally stated.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Rockslide in Rockville destroys a home, Rockville, Utah, Dec. 12, 2013 | Photo by Dan Mabbutt, St, George News
Rockslide in Rockville destroys a home, Rockville, Utah, Dec. 12, 2013 | Photo by Dan Mabbutt, St, George News

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  • Kristen December 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Oh how sad:( I hope everyone involved was ok.

  • Bender December 12, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Bummer. Check out the sat view:
    Not sure which home it is in this view but look at those rocks looming on the plateau above.
    BTW, this appears to be the West end of town, not the South end as mentioned in story.

    • Avatar photo Joyce Kuzmanic December 12, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      Bender, names of those lost in this disaster and the exact address are being withheld pending notifications. St. George News is respecting that decision of the responders on scene.
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

    • Edyth Lang December 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      It was the very last/first home in Rockville on the southwest corner.

    • Mike December 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      Hey Bender! Mike here, we used to ride bikes together once upon a time, at least I have never heard a Bender before. Maureen Morris and Jeff Elsey lived in the home if that helps at all. Wish the best for you man!

    • Dan Mabbutt December 12, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      You’re correct. It’s west, not south. The error is entirely mine. It has always “felt” like south as I drive down the canyon.

  • Citizen December 12, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    So sad to see such a tragic event around this time of year! Praying for all those emergency workers stay safe while retrieving the bodies!!

    Also, I do believe it’s SGT Garen Brecke not Braeke.

  • Ball December 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Bender’s link is nearly correct. It’s the house with the light-colored five-sided roof and boulders all around it (gee, wonder how those boulders got there -_-)

  • Ball December 12, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    “I have not been told that we’re in danger of a second one.”

    I’m not a geologist or structural engineer, but I am a very experienced rock climber and one usually tries not to unnecessarily remove rocks because it will tend to destabilize the rock face further. I think Sgt. Garen Braecke should not tempt the fate of others reading his statements.

  • Roland December 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    They must have done something to piss off God! He doesn’t do things like this for no reason.

    • Matthew Sevald December 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm

      He doesn’t do things like this at all…….

    • JamesB December 13, 2013 at 8:29 am


    • Cedar City Resident December 13, 2013 at 9:37 am

      Just because someone dies in an accident doesn’t mean they had it coming or were evil. Sometimes an accident is just an accident

    • Melissa December 13, 2013 at 11:18 am

      WOW!!! Seriously?!?!?

    • Patricia December 13, 2013 at 11:24 am

      Why does it have to be God’s fault. The boulders fell. Rocks do roll downhill

    • Infinite power and YET still wanting more December 13, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      Tongue in cheek? Or just no idea of how the world really works???

    • Former Rockville Resident December 13, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      Wow, really? Spoken like a true ignorant inbred. Please forgive my bluntness. Am I wrong?
      FYI, there is this thing call gravity, and the concept of “slippery when wet”. Contrary to what you may believe, just because someone didn’t think like you and live in a little bubble of your perceived “godliness” doesn’t mean (your concept of) God is punishing them. The reality is, none of us get out of here without dying, and we don’t often decided how we get to go, but everyone does sooner or later.

      In their case, I would say it is a matter of poor building location. There has been an awful lot of wet weather, rockslides happen. Laws of physics and such, ya know? would say it’s a tragedy, not a punishment. Besides, haven’t you ever heard about bad things happening to good people? There are people hear that have suffered loss of loved ones.
      Ignorant comments like that one have no place in a civilized society , you follow?

      So the next time you stub your toe, it doesn’t mean God is punishing you.
      Or maybe He/She/They/The neverending Omnipotent /Omniscient Intelligence that holds the very atom together, IS…..for your insensitive,ignorant comment.

      And not these are not random insulting words I have used, merely statements of an observation, from my perspective .
      Feel free to consider the actual meaning of what I am saying .

    • bUB December 14, 2013 at 12:32 am

      Roland is right. But we don’t know if God caused it or just allowed it to happen…

    • Cliche December 15, 2013 at 8:18 am

      I’m surprised some god-fearin’ bible or bom thumper didn’t say that stupid cliche “It was meant to be!” When somebody says that (“It was meant to be.”), I want to hurl.

    • annonymous December 16, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      im appalled! imagine if that were your family, would you be saying the same thing? in this case, they were family to me. RIP to the couple. I will not name names. be respectful, kharma may be on its way.

  • Ball December 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Here is a report of the 2010 rock fall incident, which hit the house next door (HIGHLY relevant):

    • bender December 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      Interesting read. Thanks for the link.
      It’s certainly rock fall weather. First a couple of good storms to saturate the soils, then a hard freeze to heave and loosen rock and finally a thaw so that the clays beneath the rocks are lubricated and slippery.
      I cringe when I drive by subdivisions with similar situations. They exist in many places in Washington County.

    • Steve December 12, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks for posting that report. Wonder if any prevention work or concrete warnings were ever formally made to effected homeowners in that area? I would not be surprised now to see a short term public demand for rock fall evaluation and prevention in that entire area. Would not be surprised to see a bunch of for sale signs popping up.

  • Don't live at the bottom of a hill December 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    A perfect example of why you should not live at the bottom of a hill will large bolder at the top of that hill.

    • Steve December 12, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      There are hundreds it not thousands of homes within rock fall zones in the Washington County area alone.

  • Ball December 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Roland, are you serious? There is a difference between defying God and temping fate. If you work in a construction zone without a helmet, that doesn’t mean you’ve been punished by God if a hammer falls on your head. You should read the report I cited and think better of your theological statements.

  • Brugh December 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    I felt a rumble in the ground before 7pm tonight. Shook my shop walls lightly and also aggitated my dogs. Im located in Washington City. Wonder if that had anything to do with it. My condolences to the family and friends.

  • kerry s December 12, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    So sad, we have lost two wonderful people here in our little town.

  • Real Life December 12, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Come on people, have a little couth. Two people died.

    • Timothy Nebergall December 15, 2013 at 1:47 am

      I just can’t belive the comments that people have said.My cuz Moreen I love and was thankful for being her cusin and to all the idiot that have no life and try starting the drama bull Moreen was so much more than that so grow up and say something that Moreen would appreciate. God bless you Moreen. Love you.

  • Pamela Alexander December 12, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    This is not the time for joking around and insensitive comments. I highly recommend evacuation of the neighboring homes until engineers can inspect the situation in daylight! I was there right after the boulder fell. No way I would set foot into any of those other homes, much less sleep there. The victims families are in my Prayers. Please use good judgment with your words.

  • Michele December 13, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Anyone familiar with Rockville will recognize the house. I knew the couple that lived there and these calloused remarks make my stomach turn.

    • Patricia December 13, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Thank you Michele. I knew one of them, and that person was sweet, kind and gentle.

  • bUB December 13, 2013 at 1:21 am

    It’s Obama’s fault!

  • James December 13, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Wow, so many comments from so many people who lack class. Two people just passed away, can’t the trolls of the Internet show a little compassion?

    My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the two who lived there. A reminder to give the ones we love a a huge hug.

    • Scout December 13, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Reminds me of all the offensive hateful things the area people said about our President, his wife and their two children. Their hearts pour out one side of their mouths (or so they say) while out the other side of their mouths pours their vile hatred.

  • Catherine December 13, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Thought’s and prayers go out to all their family and friends! Such a terrible tragedy! I think that more prayers should go out instead of pointing fingers on others. My daughter was killed in horrific accident and so many on this page in October had so many ugly thing to say about the report being wrong and street direction they were headed, made me sick to see! What matters is people lost their lives and it is very sad! Much love and light to those who were affected by this rock slide!

  • stan December 13, 2013 at 8:27 am

    maybe those goblin-tippers have a bit of a point – loose rocks can kill people

  • Joel Sanders December 13, 2013 at 8:54 am

    I honestly believe that people who make flippant remarks about a tragedy will pay one day…and even then I won’t make flippant remarks about your situation. How about some love and caring?

    • San December 13, 2013 at 11:20 am

      I hope you’re right Ughhhhhh. How any anyone make such stupid remarks, hurtful remarks???? I hope that the 2010 slide is investigated though…and agree that I’d evacuate ten minutes ago if I lived along that ridge. Prayers to all those affected.

    • bUB December 14, 2013 at 12:35 am

      pay how? with money?

  • Joanna December 13, 2013 at 9:11 am

    What a beautiful home, and a terrible tragedy! I often see these huge boulders precariously teetering up on the hills around here and worry that they will roll off. I am so sorry it happened in this case.

  • Real World December 13, 2013 at 9:34 am

    It’s truly sad that these people perished and had no time to escape. But what might be even more sad is that more people will be killed or injured in this way because human beings simply do not understand or respect the world they live in, they only think in human terms, not the real world. For example, this entire wall is a waterfall of rock and debris, the evidence around the homes and in the report cited above, *clearly* shows that and yet, because we only think in terms of human years, we don’t see that, understand it, don’t think it will happen to *us* and use convenient for humans based statistical thinking to humor our selves into building homes in far less stable areas such as beaches and cliffside run outs.

    When climate change gets into full swing…and it really has not, expect a lot more inconvenient calamity to ensue, that’s the world we have created for our selves. RIP poor folks..:-(

  • Scout December 13, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I wonder if some SLC area scout leader and his helper were up there and knocked that rock off to protect children again ?

    • Melissa December 13, 2013 at 11:21 am

      WOW!!! How callous your statement is. Please show some class and humanity.

    • San December 13, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Two people are dead…can’t you come up with a better punch line? Idiot.

    • Scout December 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm

      My sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims. Believe me, I’ve responded to accidents and disasters and have dealt with victims’ agony and trauma and offered my assistance to them. However, too many people around here respond with “prayers” or “heart goes out” with no sincerity behind those words. Some people who say these words won’t even stop to help someone stranded on the side of the road. Want to prevent these types of accidents from natural disasters? Petition your city and county governments for tighter safety and zoning standards. For example, every year, area people are impacted by floods because of building permits in flood plains were issued, resulting in more “hearts go out”. This particular area has a history of rock falls. Was there warning when this couple selected that site to build? Didn’t this site rest in the impact zone of boulders above? Apparently so. Who issued the building permit and why? And those scout leaders in SLC, pleeezzz don’t say they merit leniency cause they’re members of some church.

  • Melissa December 13, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Thoughts and prayers to family and friends of those lost in this accident.

  • Christine Fancher December 13, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Our hearts go out to our beloved community of Rockville and Springdale. It is our OTHER home. We love and care about the people there. My husband and I have savored visiting there for over 30 years. This is a rare and tragic incident. The victims families and neighbors are in our prayers. Thankfully, it is a close community that helps each other, especially in times of need. Peace be with you all. Love always, Christine Fancher and Joel Orr aka Buck n Queenie

  • Not A Dixieite December 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    It’s not a good idea to build beneath a wall of rock where there is evidence of impending rock slides. However, it’s also not a good idea to build alongside rivers that when it floods, will cause houses to slide into the water.

  • Bob Fogelson December 13, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I don’t think this is a tragedy, honestly. I bet this couple joked and laughed about the possibility of some giant boulder tumbling down the hill and killing them instantly, just like what happened. They probably accepted it because life is unpredictable, you can be taken at any moment. It’s just a real possibility for a house in a location like that, which they were fully aware of and all right with, or they wouldn’t live there. It’s the lifestyle they chose and it’s okay to just have a chuckle at this. I think it’s a feel-good story and I like the pictures. The mood doesn’t have to be all sad and gloomy. These people lived a good amount of life, and now they’re gone in kind of a comical way. It’s not like laughing at them, but just having a laugh at our collective situation on this little crazy planet of ours.

    • Scout December 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      You’re right on. Had it been me snuffed out in an instant by a boulder crashing down upon me, it wouldn’t bother me one bit even if people said I went out stoned. These people lived their lives, apparently were successful in life, but like everyone else, they don’t get to choose how they exit this world. They got to choose how to live it and where to live and by appearance of their retirement home, they lived happily.

  • 2 Under December 15, 2013 at 8:27 am

    When you live in Rockville you better believe there are rocks! Lots of rocks. Big rocks! It’s a beautiful area to call home but you’ve got to believe that those who choose to build under the cliffs have insurance adjusters review those building sites before the first hammer is swung. It’s the same for the idiots who build in a 100 year flood plane because they desire a river view. It’s unfortunate and my heart goes out to the friends and family of those lost but come on people. We are the superior beings on this planet. We know this stuff yet we all make mistakes. Let’s learn from this tragedy and stop blaming God, the builder, the city or whomever else we can point fingers at.

  • harry wolters December 17, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Sure hope those folks living in Marble Canyon Az take a hint from this.

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