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May 13, 2014
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Vail Daily column: What happened to ‘Happy Valley’?

Many of us often jokingly refer to our adopted home as “Happy Valley.” Last week’s events proved just how happy a place this is, really. Most of the time.

Last week started, of course, with the shocking news that a 13-year-old boy in Gypsum had been arrested, accused of murder in the shooting death of his father, Joseph Kelly. Many of us know the family; no one had any inkling that such tragedy could befall them.

The end of the week brought an equally bizarre incident, in which a Montrose County man, a convicted killer who was again facing charges of a violent crime in a drive-by shooting in Mesa County, apparently shot and gravely wounded Trooper Eugene Hofacker, a Colorado State Patrol officer assigned to the Eagle-Vail station for the past few years. A fellow trooper from Eagle-Vail, Shane Gosnell, happened to be riding with Hofacker at the time he was shot. Gosnell returned fire, killing the suspect, Thomas Ornelas.

“This isn’t why we moved here,” has been a frequent refrain over the past few days, and rightly so. We live in an extraordinarily safe place by the standards of pretty much anywhere else in the world. Violence of this nature is as foreign to us as snow in the desert. We’re stunned when we see it.

Of course, most of us moved here for the snow, but big snow last weekend — which brought as much as 30 inches to parts of northwestern Colorado — was another “what’s up with that?” moment.

The human violence, along with nature’s latest hissy fit, reminds us that life, even in Happy Valley, can be uncertain.

On the human side, it’s easy to forget that Interstate 70 brings untold weirdness through the valley every day. Once in a great while, some of those weirdos happen to linger here for a time, with unknown, and — very rarely — horrifying results.

We’re also rarely reminded of the frailty of some people from whom we least expect the awful.

The people here at the Vail Daily grapple with these things, too. We’re as baffled as anyone by the kind of violence we’ve seen recently. And, like you, we’re ready for another long, long stretch when arguing about what to call spring is what passes for controversy in (usually) Happy Valley. That, and some warmer weather.


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The VailDaily Updated May 13, 2014 10:01PM Published May 13, 2014 07:39PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.