Mystery lingers over fatal crash in Glenwood Canyon
The last moments of Gavan Brouillette’s short life may remain a mystery even to the driver who struck and killed the 20-year-old in Glenwood Canyon on Sept. 30.
Witness reported that the Glenwood Springs native was behaving erratically when he got out of his car after hitting a guardrail on eastbound Interstate 70 near Bair Ranch at about 8:30 p.m., 90 minutes after sunset. A moment later, he was lying in the roadway mortally injured, with no sign of the vehicle that hit him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy would later suggest that Brouillette was likely struck by something larger than a standard passenger vehicle. According to State Patrol Public Information Officer Nate Reed, traffic cameras show two semi trucks passing through the area around that time. It is possible, Reed said, that one of the trucks sideswiped Brouillette when he was out of his car without the driver noticing.
“We all want to find somebody to blame, but sometimes there just isn’t,” said Brouillette’s mother, Nicky Foust.
When the toxicology report came back, it also showed recent marijuana consumption, with blood THC levels several times the legal limit. THC — tetrahydracannibanol — is the active ingredient in marijuana.
“We all make bad decisions,” Foust said. “I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a person about that time in their life that didn’t say, ‘I can’t believe I’m still alive.’”
Foust described her son as “a Colorado kid” — a former Boy Scout who loved soccer, skateboarding and snowboarding. Born in Glenwood Springs, he had never lived anywhere else. He attended Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork and tried both home schooling and Glenwood Springs High School before finishing his education at Yampah Mountain High.
“He was definitely his own kind of person,” Foust said. “The traditional schooling wasn’t something that really nurtured his soul.”
When he was 17, Brouillette adopted his huskie, Aniya, from Colorado Animal Rescue.
“She was his constant companion,” Foust said.
When Foust moved to Denver, Brouillette stayed in Glenwood.
“He didn’t want to leave,” she said. “He loved the valley and loved the mountains.”
After a year of trying to get his feet under him, he agreed to an extended visit with his grandparents with a stop in Denver.
Foust came up to help him pack his car that fateful Wednesday evening, then started out on I-70 ahead of him. She spoke to him briefly on the phone as he entered the canyon, and told him to focus on driving and call her back when he reached the other side.
The call dropped, and when she didn’t hear from him, she tried unsuccessfully to reach him until the coroner called to give her the news.
She later took in Aniya, whom first responders found curled up on the front seat, shaken and a little battered from the airbag but otherwise unharmed.
Community members, friends and family have since raised more than $1,400 at giveforward.com/fundraiser/qf9b/gavan-isaac-brouillette to construct a memorial for Brouillette at Two Rivers Park, where he and Aniya were regulars.
“There are a lot of people that knew him,” Foust said. “He was friendly and loving with everybody.”
It’s a lesson she’s trying to take to heart herself.
“We all have experiences that we didn’t want and didn’t expect, but life gives them to us anyway,” she said. “I know he’s at peace, and that’s an important thing for me.”
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