79-Year-Old Identified As Larimer County's First Flood Fatality

Evelyn Starner in a family portrait that was found floating in the Big Thompson River after flooding destroyed her house (credit: Starner Family/KCNC)

A 79-year-old woman has been confirmed as Larimer County's first fatality from the flooding that devastated parts of the state earlier this month.

The woman's body was found Saturday along the bank of the Big Thompson River, near North County Road 31D. Authorities have identified her as Evelyn Starner.

Starner had previously been listed as "missing, presumed dead." While she was still missing, her family told sister station KCNC that a wall of water had crashed into her house along the Big Thompson River, breaking Starner's back and immobilizing her before eventually sweeping her away. A neighbor tried to hold onto Starner, her son told KCNC, but was unable to save her.

"Joyce tried to help her, she tried to get her up to the bank," Shawn Starner said.

But the raging waters were too strong, and Shawn Starner said his mother eventually told Joyce to save herself.

Authorities said Starner's cause of death was drowning, and that she suffered blunt force trauma.

In the midst of tragedy, Shawn Starner told KCNC the waters gave back one thing. Days before his mother's body was recovered, a woman in Loveland found a family portrait--still intact--floating in muddy flood waters. The family in the portrait: the Starners.

Shawn told KCNC it was the only thing left of his family's home and his mother.

A 60-year-old woman in the county is still listed as "missing, presumed dead." A second person, a 46-year-old man, had been presumed dead, but checked in with authorities Monday. His home was swept away by flood waters, but he told the Larimer County Sheriff's Office that he managed to climb out a window just in time.