Injured teens recovering
Nine Hayden, Craig residents involved in one-car rollover accident Sunday
A Hayden girl who was seriously injured in a rollover accident near Hayden was upgraded from critical to serious condition Tuesday at a Grand Junction hospital Monday.
Stormy Beach, 16, was among nine people riding in a car that skidded off U.S. Highway 40 and rolled down an embankment about two miles west of Hayden early Sunday.
None of the occupants was wearing a seat belt, and seven were transported to area hospitals with serious injuries, according to the Colorado State Patrol.
“She’s definitely a little better than yesterday,” said Stormy Beach’s mother, Libby Beach, from Grand Junction on Monday evening. “She’s starting to respond a little.”
Trooper Rick Kaspar said Monday he is asking Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James to recommend charges of careless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol for the driver, Tomas Marquez, 23, of Hayden.
Marquez, Stormy Beach and her brother, Chase Beach, 18, of Hayden were airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction with serious injuries. Marquez was released from the hospital Monday and Chase Beach was released Tuesday, hospital spokeswoman Devra Ashby said.
Brandon Rinker, 21, of Hayden and Levi Heythaler, 17, and Chelsea Merrill, 16 — both of Craig — were released from Yampa Valley Medical Center on Monday. Sarah Coyner, 17, also of Craig was in fair condition, hospital spokeswoman Christine McKelvie said.
Coyner suffered a broken femur, shoulder and elbow, according to her grandfather and guardian, Delmar Coyner. The girl underwent surgery on her femur and will face future surgeries on her arm, he told the Craig Daily Press.
“She’s doing well, considering,” Delmar Coyner said. “It looks promising that she’ll make a full recovery.”
Marlene Grubbs, 17, of Hayden was treated at the hospital and released Sunday morning, though her mother, Julie Grubbs, said Marlene was returning to the hospital Monday because of pain from a broken collarbone.
McKelvie said Grubbs was not listed among patients at the hospital Monday evening.
Libby Beach said she was thankful to emergency personnel who responded quickly to the accident scene, as well as staff members at YVMC and The Memorial Hospital.
Stormy Beach initially was taken to the Steamboat hospital and Chase Beach to the Craig hospital before they were airlifted to Grand Junction. Staff at both hospitals kept Libby Beach, who was at YVMC, informed of her children’s conditions.
“There was a really good support system there,” she said. “There were a lot of really good people there helping me.”
Kaspar said the group was celebrating Stormy Beach’s birthday at a home in Hayden when they piled into a 1995 Ford Taurus and headed to Craig shortly after midnight.
Four people were sitting in the front seat of the car and five were in the back, Kaspar said. It is unclear why the group was going to Craig, he said.
At The Memorial Hospital in Craig, Marquez told the trooper on duty, Ryan Parker, that he was upset because the back seat passengers were harassing him about his driving, Kaspar said. Marquez told Parker that he responded by jerking the wheel, which caused the car to skid off the highway, Kaspar said.
The vehicle traveled down an embankment and vaulted at least 50 feet before rolling onto its top in a group of trees. Kaspar estimated the car was going about 80 mph at the time of the crash.
Four people — Rinker, Grubbs, Merrill and Chase Beach — walked to the highway where a woman picked them up and took them to Stormy Beach’s home in Hayden, where they called 911, he said.
Another passenger in the car, 15-year-old Dustin Jones of Hayden, told troopers he walked home from the crash with cuts and bruises.
At the hospital in Craig, Parker noticed Marquez’s breath smelled of alcohol and that he had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, Kaspar said.
After admitting to drinking alcohol before driving, Marquez gave a blood sample for testing, the results of which will be available in about two weeks. Kaspar said Marquez also told Parker he smoked marijuana five to six hours before driving and smoked methamphetamine earlier Saturday.
The recommended charges could change depending on the district attorney’s assessment of the evidence, Kaspar said.
Meanwhile, Hayden residents may need help dealing with the emotion and shock of the situation. High school and middle school counselor Danica Moss will be available from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday through Friday at Hayden High School to talk about the situation.
“In any kind of small town, there’s always the guilt of maybe feeling like you could have done something,” she said. “Any time something traumatic happens, there’s a rush of emotions.”
Moss said she’s there as a confidential source for students who may be uncomfortable talking about the accident with their parents. She’s also available for parents needing suggestions for ways of approaching their children with the issue, she said.
Moss said she hopes those in the accident make a full recovery. She is particularly close to Stormy Beach, who loves to dance, make her own clothes and is an “amazing friend” to others, Moss said.
“She’s a great kid,” she said. “She has a real passion to be unique and stand out from other kids.”
— To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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