Residents Fret Over Deaths in San Bernardino Mountains During Snow

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In a brief accounting of each case still under investigation, the authorities said every one of the eight deaths appeared to be “natural.” The sheriff’s department, which also serves as the county coroner’s office, said there was no evidence to suggest that the victims died because they might have been trapped in their homes.

But other snowbound locals said that, while they understood that officials were dealing with an unusually fierce act of nature, they didn’t believe that the weather wasn’t a factor in the deaths.

“That’s absolutely not true,” said Carola Hauer, a Running Springs resident who, at 71, said she had “out-shoveled everyone here” for the past two weeks.

Ms. Hauer, a psychologist, said she didn’t wish to assign blame. But she said she hoped officials and communities would learn and be better prepared.

“We probably should have raised the emergency flag a little sooner,” she said.

Ms. Thayer, who was snowed in with her father’s body for days, said that she was trying not to think about the future — how she must soon sell her father’s house, which had been under a reverse mortgage contract. She was keeping a wary eye on the fine cracks in her ceiling that appeared after the blizzard heaped snow onto her roof and said she was trying not to panic.

She said she had taken heart in the kindness of her neighbors, the warmth of her community.

At one point after her father died, a neighbor asked if she needed anything. Ms. Thayer replied jokingly: “A box of L’Oreal and a pizza.” A short time later, after her neighbor’s husband had managed to make it to the store, he walked over to her and handed her a bag.

In it were a L’Oreal box dye and a pizza.

“You know,” Ms. Thayer said, “what saves this mountain is the people that live on it.”

Kirsten Noyes contributed research.

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