A Vail Valley ride to remember | VailDaily.com

A Vail Valley ride to remember

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
Red Sandstone Elementary students often crowd Vail's pedestrian overpass to wave to Eagle County emergency workers during the annual Ride in Remembrance. This year's ride is May 10.
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VAIL, Colorado ” Sirens blared, cars honked, lights flashed and bystanders cheered as a long line of motorcycles, law enforcement vehicles and fire trucks made its way through Vail Wednesday afternoon.

The motorcade marked the 8th annual Ride in Remembrance, a memorial event organized by the town of Vail to honor local emergency services workers who have died in the line of duty. The procession started at Freedom Park in Edwards and included a pack of motorcycles, police and Sheriff’s Office cars, fire engines and ambulances.

The group passed under the pedestrian bridge in Vail, where the entire student body of Red Sandstone Elementary had gathered to cheer and wave the flag. The ride ended at Donovan Pavilion in Vail.

“In the line of duty people are always putting their lives on the line,” said Vail Code Enforcement Officer Moses Gonzales, who helped organize the event. “If we forget about what they do, it’s lost to everybody. It’s something we never want to forget.”

For some Vail police officers, the event was a time to remember Ryan Cunningham, a Vail officer who died in 2001 at the scene of an accident in East Vail while he was trying to avoid an oncoming truck.

“We’re out here to remember those who fell in the line of duty,” said Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger. “But more importantly, we’re here to recognize their families and let them know that we still remember.”

Eagle County Ambulance District operations manager Pete Brandes said he was thinking of a friend in emergency services from the East Coast who died this year in an ambulance accident.

“We’re not on the shooting side of things, but it’s still a very dangerous business. It’s important for us to remember that,” he said.

Manuel Carbajal, of Leadville, came in honor of his brother, Gypsum firefighter Cruz Carbajal, who died in 1993.

As a volunteer firefighter himself, Carbajal said it made him proud to see so many uniformed officers from all over the county come together.

About 150 emergency services workers as well as civilians gathered at Donovan Pavilion following the ride for a short ceremony. Blue and white uniforms lined the room as fifth graders of Red Sandstone Elementary performed the national anthem.

Eagle County Undersheriff Jeff Layman thanked the community for its support.

“We also appreciate all the public support and the people who have come out with us today,” he said, adding that he appreciated the fact that all the difference agencies came together for the event. “I think this shows the support we feel for each other in these professions. We respect the jobs that we all do.”

Henninger said the Ride in Remembrance was unique to the valley and showed cooperation among the agencies.

“I don’t know of anywhere else where all the law enforcement does this together,” he said. “We all work together very well, and this is just one example.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.