A December 12 rockslide obliterated a two-story home in Rockville, killing its two occupants. The home and an unattached garage at 368 W. Main St. were crushed when more than six large boulders rolled down from a steep cliff behind the house.

Maureen Morris, 65, and Jeff Elsey, 58, perished in the late afternoon rockslide. Rockville is a small community near Springdale, Utah and Zion National Park.

While the two occupants’ vehicles were both at the house, police and search and rescue responders needed time to investigate the area. There was the potential for more ground activity, and they had to ascertain whether there were any others in the home at the time of the slide. Fortunately, there were none.

While surrounded by huge sandstone cliffs vulnerable to slides during winter and spring months, Rockville residents were stunned by the tragic deaths and devastation. Many homes there were deemed in danger after a previous slide, according to a 2010 Utah Geological Survey.

“We’ve had a few incidences here,” according to Kane County Emergency Services Director Alan Alldredge, of our area. With geologic features similar to the Rockville incident, this area’s cliffs are at risk of the (slide producing) freezing and thawing that occurs in southern Utah.

“Homeowners build where they want to build,” said Alldredge. “We just try and identify the areas for potential slides, and respond if needed.”