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Husband Of San Antonio Couple Found Dead, Wife Still Missing After Colorado Mudslide

A debris field overwhelms the banks of the Cache La Poudre River after Tuesday's flash flooding ripped through a drainage near Black Hollow Road in the Poudre Canyon near Rustic, Colo. on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.072121 Poudreflooding 23 Bb
Bethany Baker / The Coloradoan/USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Co
A debris field overwhelms the banks of the Cache La Poudre River after Tuesday's flash flooding ripped through a drainage near Black Hollow Road in the Poudre Canyon near Rustic, Colo. on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.072121 Poudreflooding 23 Bb

Updated at 7.28.21, 8:18 p.m. on Monday, July 26, to reflect additional details.

David Brown — a longtime San Antonio resident — was killed in a mudslide that occurred 45 minutes outside of Fort Collins, Colorado, according to the Larimer County Coroner.

The mudslide swept away six cabins in Poudre Canyon Tuesday night, according to the Larimer County Sheriff’s office. Heavy rains tore through a burned out swath of forest resulting in a flash flood that caused the mudslides, knocked out power to nearly a 100 residents and may have killed as many as four people.

David Brown, 61, was at the cabin with his wife Diana, his sister Patricia, 59, and his father, Richard, 85. Richard Brown had owned the cabin for many years.

Patricia Brown's body was found Wednesday by search and rescue personnel. She had drowned. David Brown was found Sunday evening and an autopsy had yet to be performed. The body of Richard Brown was found Monday morning.

David and wife Diana had been missing after the mudslide, according to their adult son who is named Colorado.

“I was told Wednesday that a flash flood had happened where they were and that they’d probably been killed,” said Brown in a message to TPR early Monday.

“I don’t know much right now,” said Brown.

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Department has spent days with dozens of search and rescue personnel searching the debris. They were often hindered by weather, with additional flash flood warnings delaying efforts.

The sheriff announced initially that four people were missing — two males and two females. Diana Brown remains missing.

The sheriff's office did not plan to deploy more search teams on Tuesday.

"Our deepest sympathy goes out to the yet unidentified victim of this flooding and their family along with any other potential victims yet to be located," said Justin Smith, Larimer County Sheriff, in a Facebook post Wednesday.

Rumors about the couple began circulating among the friends when news of the mudslide surfaced. According to friends, David, or “DB” as he was known, and his wife Diana traveled to the cabin each July for more than 30 years.

“It was definitely his happy place, he talked about it like a refuge,” said Hilary Keahey, longtime friend of the couple, in a phone interview.

David Brown has worked for Southwest Airlines for more than a decade. Keahey said Diana is known as a skilled jewelry craftsman by her friends. Both were well-known members of the theater community. DB was a founding member of the Oxymorons, an improv theater troupe founded in San Antonio in 1989 and extremely active in the ’90s

“He was one of the funniest people I ever knew,” said Keahey, who joined the troupe in 1994.

Keahey reminisced about DB’s generosity on stage as a collaborator. She spoke of Diana Brown’s support of DB, she was active in the San Antonio Theater Coalition, her active participation in her church theater and her devotion to their son, Colorado. She has maintained the friendship with the couple despite the troupe ending its run.

The flash flood and mudslide have been linked to 2020’s catastrophic fire season. A section of the historic Cameron Peak fire has scorched large swaths of the area. When heavy rain pounded the barren area, it stripped the rock of its covering ground soil, creating a tumult of downed trees and debris.

I never ever thought I would experience a personal loss like this, to severe weather," said Manny Pelaez, District 8 Councilman and another Oxymoron alumnus.

Pelaez remembered an enormous man — Brown was around 6-foot-5 — who was very gentle and soft spoken. He called DB a "comedic mentor."

"The guy did not have a mean bone in his body. He was generous onstage. He was generous offstage. It is hard to find someone who is 100% devoted to others," he said.

While the couple has not been confirmed dead when TPR spoke to Keahey, she had resigned herself to the couple’s death. Keahey talked about scouring the news online Saturday and seeing the images of the carnage in Poudre Canyon. Keahey, who has worked in car sales for many years, spotted a familiar vehicle. A maroon 2016 Honda Odyssey minivan was mangled in the wreckage.

“It was broken and scratched and twisted. I knew they were gone. Because I sold them that car,” Keahey said, battling back tears.

“When you see something like that and you know it’s probably parked right next to the cabin. And it looks that way. And the reports are saying the cabin has been swept away,” she said “it’s hard not to come to terms with the fact that their souls are elsewhere now.”

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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org