Storm Results In One Death


Frank and Elicia Morigeau were among the victims of the winter storm that passed through Rim Country Monday night and early Tuesday morning. The storm’s high winds uprooted a large pine tree and sent it crashing into their three vehicles.

Frank and Elicia Morigeau were among the victims of the winter storm that passed through Rim Country Monday night and early Tuesday morning. The storm’s high winds uprooted a large pine tree and sent it crashing into their three vehicles. |

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A powerful winter storm thrashed the Rim Country last night, killing a hunter, knocking out power, dropping several inches of snow in Pine-Strawberry, triggering rockslides and covering Payson with a sheet of ice that caused several accidents as more than a dozen cars slid off the road.

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Public Safety reported an extremely busy 24 hours after the storm started moving in Monday morning.

Incidents included a house fire in Whispering Pines, where a fire truck slid off the road racing to the call.

As of Tuesday morning, officers were still assisting motorists stuck in snow, and the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office was investigating the death of a hunter in the Highway 260 and Camp Verde turnoff area, north of Strawberry. The accident happened around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and the sheriff’s office is still determining what happened. No further details were available.

Lt. Tim Scott with the Gila County Sheriff’s Office said a truck and horse trailer were still stuck on the west side of Geronimo Estates and several people were stuck on Twin Buttes Road.

Two snow cats, including one from APS, were used to rescue a family, including a pregnant woman who went out looking for a Christmas tree near Woods Canyon Lake.

Mike Cole, manager with APS, said residents in Pine, Christopher Creek, East Verde Estates, Young, Forest Lakes and Blue Ridge were still out of power and would not have it restored until Tuesday afternoon at the earliest. Power went out in Pine around 5:30 p.m. Monday.

An additional 10 APS crewmembers from Phoenix were on their way to assist Payson’s two crews.

“We still have outages everywhere,” Cole said.

Cole said he had a crew out near the Christopher Creek and Young area overnight and had to pull them out when wind gusts began toppling trees.

“There were tress snapping all over,” he said.

The Whispering Pines Fire Department responded to a two-story house fire just before 10 p.m. and was still on scene Tuesday removing a fire truck that slid off the road. The home was a total loss. See Friday’s Roundup for more information on the fire.

An electric heater in Star Valley also caused smoke damage in a small park model just after 4 p.m. in the C Bar Diamond Trailer Park, said Hellsgate Fire Chief Gary Hatch. The homeowner was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Gila Community College’s 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. classes started an hour later to give students time to safely make it to school. The rest of the classes started on time. Payson schools also started an hour late on Tuesday morning.

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