Megan Helm already suffering enough
Editor’s note: The following letter was originally addressed to The Observer, the local paper in La Grande, Ore.
I have lived in Colorado my entire life with the exception of 2 years that I spent in La Grande while my husband worked as a radiologist at Grande Ronde Hospital. We had the opportunity to come back home to Colorado in 1999. We were very sad to leave our beautiful home and wonderful friends in Oregon. La Grande still has a little piece of my heart, and I will always cherish the time spent in that beautiful part of Oregon. We still keep in contact with many of you there and are looking forward to seeing you when we visit in August.
This summer has been a trying one for Coloradans.The fires have taken a heavy toll both emotionally as well as financially. The Coal Seam Fire here in Glenwood Springs forced the evacuation of half our town which included our new home. My husband fled with our dog, a few files, and pictures. I was out of town with my daughter Secia, and am glad we didn’t witness the terror. The devastation, however, was unbelievable and altered some of the landscape that makes this place such a beautiful place to live. Thankfully, there was no loss of life, but over 20 homes were destroyed. The fire came within yards of our brand new community center. Had it not been for the brave firefighters our town could have easily been destroyed. We owe them our most profound gratitude and admiration.
I was terribly saddened to hear of the horrible accident that happened on Interstate 70 near Glenwood. When I read who the driver was, it was worse. Megan Helm is the granddaughter of our dear friend and former neighbor Dorothy Helm. I know Megan is heartbroken over the tragedy and has taken responsibility. Through no fault of her own she was driving a dangerous van that is known to cause fatal crashes. These vehicles are all over the country and are used by schools and churches to transport our most precious cargo, our children. We should all be outraged that these vans are allowed to travel our roads and freeways. How many more lives will be lost because of them?
Megan’s life should not be ruined because of a split-second mistake. How many times have we as drivers looked down to change the radio station, pick up our drink or use a cell phone? It could happen to anyone. I want her to know that everyone here in Glenwood Springs and the surrounding areas are heartsick for her, too. I am confident that our justice system will do the right thing and drop charges against her. Megan will have to live with this the rest of her life; she is punishing herself enough. We are grateful that she and her co-workers were coming out to help battle the Hayman Fire that was raging near Denver. We admire her willingness and courage to help. We admire them all.
Please know that we send our deepest condolences to the families that lost loved ones that terrible day. Your loss was not in vain as your children had good hearts and lived honorable lives.
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