In the midst of high summer, when tourists fill the valley and communities are hosting their wonderful fairs, tragedy still finds its way in.
Weekend before last, Eric James Schwaab drove his car in front of an Amtrak train near New Castle. The Garfield County Coroner’s office has ruled it a suicide.
The accident was shocking and frightening, and very sad for his family and friends. And for the engineer and conductor of the train, who could do nothing to prevent the crash, it is a terrible nightmare.
Suicide is a cruel act, one that leaves no opportunity for healing. Nothing good can come of this way of dying, and those who are in such deep despair as to contemplate it should think very hard about what it will do to those left behind.
Death struck again this past weekend, when a very bright and good-hearted young man tried to drive as if he were invincible. But Cody Brickell couldn’t defy the laws of physics and gravity, and the result was a fiery crash that claimed his life. (See Cody’s obituary, page 7.)
Chris Toler, a young man who modeled his own life on Cody’s good examples, pulled Cody’s body free of the wreckage moments before the car burst into flames.
Many people are grieving the death of Cody Brickell. Some may also be very angry at him for taking a dumb risk.
“Stupid!” said Chris, standing at the roadside after the accident, as Ron Milhorn, his own face streaming with tears, gripped Chris in his big bear hug.
“That’s not Cody,” said one Glenwood Springs High School teacher who discussed with me Sunday the careless driving that led to the accident.
Cody was a leader, an initiator, a brilliant and hard-working young man with everything to live for. We may never know what got into him as he pointed that car down Four Mile Road. Or, perhaps, his family and friends will piece together the mystery.
The anger will give way, eventually, and those who knew Cody will be left with the bittersweet memories of a life lived to the fullest, a rich and strong-willed personality, the Papa Bear who made things fun, and the friend who was always ready to listen or help.
If you knew Cody, plan to attend his memorial service. It will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.
New community columnist
I do have some bright, good news to share.
For years, we have been running a weekly column by Kay Vasilakis, called “New Castle News.” Most recently, that column has appeared on our Community pages on Thursdays. Kay manages to ferret out great tidbits and characters from her community, in the classic tradition of small-town newspaper correspondents.
Starting this week, Kay’s column will alternate with a new column by a new correspondent. Mary Moore of Battlement Mesa will be writing “Grand Valley News.”
If you want to know the details about Grand Valley Days, an upcoming cribbage tournament and the high school’s new band teacher, check out Mary’s column.
Mary’s roots are in Rifle, and the elementary school in Silt is named after her dad, the late Roy Moore. But Battlement Mesa is her home now, and she is eager to report on the doings in Battlement and Parachute.
If you don’t know Mary, she’s a single mother of seven kids. Six have flown the coop. She worked at Battlement Mesa Co. and serves on the Garfield School District 16 school board.
If you have news about Battlement Mesa or Parachute that you’d like to share, leave a message for Mary at 945-8515, ext. 108, or drop her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Heather McGregor is the managing editor of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.
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