Car crash comes full circle at track meet |

Car crash comes full circle at track meet

Jon Mitchell
Post Independent Sports Editor
Darcy Copeland /
Darcy Copeland |

LAKEWOOD — Ask Vinnie Marr what he was thinking about at the end of November of last year, and it sure wasn’t about being at the Class 4A State Track and Field Championships in May.

“Are you kidding? I didn’t even think I was going to be able to walk again,” he said. “I thought at that point I was going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. So just being out here, being able to walk around and even run, is just crazy.”

His brother, Evrett, couldn’t agree more.

“To me, the progress he’s made is just amazing,” he said.

Then again, there’s been an emotional and physical recovery for the Marr brothers, both members of the Glenwood Springs High School track and field team. That recovery has come following a car accident which totaled the Chevy Avalanche Evrett was driving and killed their mother, 44-year-old Paula Marr. Vinnie was left with two fractured vertebrae near his neck, a concussion and a snapped right femur.

Evrett, though physically unscathed from the accident, wasn’t totally left without scars. Memories of the accident are still vivid, though his focus six months later are more on what’s in front of him instead of what happened. That came thanks to the wave of support which came from friends and family.

That made things much easier to handle, though it was still very difficult.

“It was really nice to have all of the family and friends there,” Evrett said. “Between the … three days after the surgery where he was breathing through a tube and couldn’t talk … waiting to tell him what happened to mom … was really hard emotionally.”

Evrett described the accident on Saturday, saying Paula was in the passenger seat when he was driving and Vinnie was asleep in the back seat. He said he ‘zoned out’ while listening to a song on the radio, and the car coasted on the rumble strip on the right side. When his mother yelled to get his attention, Evrett said, he jerked the steering wheel and “over-corrected,” before letting off the brake. But he lost control of the vehicle, which went off the road and, according to Evrett, rolled four times before it came to rest at the bottom of a 10-foot drop from the road.

Within 30 seconds, people had stopped to help. Vinnie, who had lost consciousness, was eventually taken to a hospital in Denver. Paula was pronounced dead at the scene.

“As soon as I knew, the first thing I though off was that she’s in a better place,” Vinnie said. “It really helped to know that, because we believe that she’ll be here all the time now with us.”

That thought, along with the massive community and family support, helped Vinnie in his recovery process. It was three weeks before he could return home from the hospital, and another two months before he was off the crutches he used to get around. Plus, there were other times when he’d be immobile at home, yet he’d receive a pick-me-up visit from friends to help him along.

Vinnie, who competed in the 4×800 relay at the state meet a year ago, still made it to the team’s first practice of the season in February. But, he was limited on the amount of work he could do.

By the time the Class 4A Western Slope League Regional meet took place at Stoker Stadium in Grand Junction last weekend, Vinnie was ready to compete again. Coach Blake Risner told him he was going to compete in the 800 at the regional meet, to which Vinnie said, “Well, it’s good to at least have the chance.”

He took that chance. And he finished the race, to which his dad, Scott, put a post up on his Facebook page which read: “I just witnessed a miracle. I got to watch my son, Vinson, run in the Western Slope Championships. 6 months ago I didn’t think he was going to walk again. I am truly overwhelmed”

Vinnie is at the state meet with the Demons as a relay alternate. Evrett, meanwhile, ran the third leg of the Demons’ 4×400 relay, which qualified for today’s finals.

He’ll have plenty of people watching him, and one special person will be there in spirit.

“It’s a little different not having my mom in the stands, but my grandpa and my dad are always the loudest ones anyway,” Evrett said. “I think about her sometimes before races, but it’s more of a motivator knowing she’d want to see me running this and she’d be really happy to see us doing this. It’s pretty awesome.”

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