Teen remembered as dedicated mother
Post Independent Staff
News that 18-year-old mother Evalyn Baker reportedly was driving too fast before dying in an accident Saturday comes as a shock to her advisor at Yampah Mountain High School in Glenwood Springs.
“She was a very cautious girl. She was a very, very cautious girl,” said Leigh McGown, child-care director and teen parent program advisor at Yampah.
The Glenwood Springs resident’s toddler son, Bryan, suffered only moderate injuries in the two-car accident on Highway 82 south of Glenwood Springs.
“The thing I thought right away was, ‘Well, there’s a real reason her boy was safe,’ because I know she would have set that car seat up safely. It was her life goal to keep him safe,” McGown said.
“That said something to me, that he was able to come out of an accident with so little injury. That spoke to the Eva I knew.”
Baker lost control of the vehicle she was driving while headed toward Glenwood Springs on Highway 82 Saturday night. The car skidded across the center median and into the path of an eastbound car, and Baker later died of her injuries. The Colorado State Patrol said Baker had been driving at too high a speed.
Bryan, 19 months old, was treated at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood and released to other family members the night of the crash.
Stephen VanDyke, 28, and his girlfriend, Jennifer Cook, 26, both of Glenwood Springs, were in the other car. Cook was treated and released from Valley View. Cook’s father, Jim, said Monday that VanDyke remained at the hospital but was removed from intensive care. VanDyke suffered internal injuries and a cut to a knee, Cook said.
He expressed sympathy over Baker’s death.
Brandon McFarland, a Taco Bell employee who used to work with Baker at the Glenwood restaurant, remembered her as being “very, very, very protective of Bryan,” such as when someone else was holding her baby.
“Her biggest concern was just to make sure her baby had a good life. That was always her focus, was just about her baby,” he said.
McFarland also said Baker was a “really nice girl” who had an infectious laugh.
She was liked by many, as was evidenced Monday. Some 30 students, perhaps a quarter of Yampah’s total enrollment, went to the school despite it being winter vacation so they could mourn their loss together, and visit with a minister and a grief counselor. Another 18 people ” including the whole Yampah staff and some community members ” gathered as well, McGown said.
A funeral service has not yet been set, she said.
Baker was a leader at the school, close to other students, and organized slumber parties and other activities for friends, McGown said. Baker also managed to squeeze in taking salsa classes between going to school, working at a local law firm and raising her son.
McFarland was impressed by Baker’s work ethic when she was at Taco Bell, where she worked before and after giving birth to Bryan.
“It was tough, but she was hanging in there the whole time,” he said. “She knew her stuff. She kind of helped out everybody around here.”
He said he talked to Baker just the other day.
“She was real happy, she and the baby were doing real good, and then all this happened. … It’s really sad to see her gone,” he said.
He said he felt shocked and confused by her death.
“It was kind of one of those things that didn’t seem realistic, just because she was such a good person ” just to know she was gone,” he said.
McGown said Baker already had completed one course at Colorado Mountain College and was interested in a law-related career. She had qualified for her diploma but was doing “portfolio work,” taking more classes before graduating, McGown said.
Baker will be posthumously awarded a diploma at this spring’s graduation, McGown said.
“We’ll have Bryan up there for sure because he’s been a part of our family,” she said.
Although Baker had her own place, her parents and other close family live in the area.
“I know they’re surrounding (Bryan) right now. I know they’re going to make the best decision between her immediate family that would be best for him,” McGown said.
Still, her passing will be hard for a boy who was inseparable from his mother.
“They’d been living on their own, and living just the two of them, all but a couple months of their lives (together). They were a duo,” McGown said.
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