Ute Pass flash flood victim remembered
John Collins, 53, of Teller County, was popular at area coffee shop
The staff of a downtown Colorado Springs coffee shop responded Saturday to the death of a popular customer, John Collins, in Friday's flash flood.
Collins, 53, was a Teller County resident whose body was found covered in debris near his battered vehicle on U.S. 24, west of Manitou Springs in Ute Pass. Authorities have ruled his death a drowning, but said they may never know if he tried to abandon his vehicle or was torn from it by the raging floodwaters.
Collins was a regular at Gold Hill Java, at the intersection of Boulder and Tejon Streets. Word of his death surprised and saddened the staff.
"He always got a big mocha with five shots of expresso," said employee Dylan McClintock. "He rarely sat. He'd be walking back and forth, or standing in a corner, talking to us. And he'd always start ordering with a joke. He loved to tell jokes."
Paul Clarkson, the store's co-owner, said he'd known Collins for a decade and will remember him as being friendly, helpful and generous.
"My wife and I knew him because he also visited our coffee shop in Woodland Park," said Clarkson. "He was a concrete contractor and helped us redesign the shop when we opened two years ago."
McClintock said the shop may hold a private memorial service for Collins, and is considering naming a drink after him.
"It was a shock, to say the least, to hear that he died," said McClintock.
Clarkson said he last saw Collins several weeks ago.
"He was a very big man -- in stature and in heart," said Clarkson.
Collins leaves his wife, Dana.
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