Combat vet who died in fall remebered in Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colorado Bill Montag remembers his late stepson, Eric OHara, as a true American hero.In his two tours of duty with the 82nd Airborne Division, OHara led 80 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and was cited three times for bravery, Montag said. He would go under fire to pull his men out of harms way, Montag said.OHara negotiated with villagers to help bring peace, Montag said. His second tour of duty included daily patrols through the city of Tikrit.The greatest thing about Eric was that he came out of Iraq with incredibly deep faith, Montag said. We know where he is now.OHara, 24, died Thursday in Steamboat Springs after falling six stories off the roof of the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel in a snow removal accident.OHara had been discharged from the U.S. Army just a few weeks ago, was trying to move on with his life and had recently enrolled in college, close family friend Larry Lamb said. Lamb fondly remembered his long talks with OHara, sharing Army stories. He remembered OHara as tough and ambitious, and called his service in the Middle East courageous.OHara had been living in Centennial since his discharge, but was in Steamboat Springs Thursday to help out with his brother-in-laws business, which is contracted to clear snow off roofs at the hotel. Just before 4 p.m., according to Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg, OHara and another worker were standing on a piece of ice that broke loose. OHara slid down the sloped roof and fell over the edge holding a safety rope, but was knocked off the rope by falling snow, Ryg said.Montag remembered OHara as a passionate skier and talented athlete. OHara lettered in skiing at Steamboat Springs High School, where he graduated in 2002.OHaras family has long been involved in local bull-riding events, and while in high school, the teenager coined the Eric dismount jumping straight off the front of the bull, Montag said.And hed get run over every time, Montag said.After his discharge, OHara enrolled in classes at Metropolitan State College of Denver using funds from the G.I. Bill. After a bit of a rebellious youth, Montag said, OHara dedicated himself to a better future and had dreams of being a stockbroker.He was so proud because he got an 84 on his big bio test on Wednesday, Montag said.OHara was incredibly close to his four sisters and was a caring uncle to their children, Montag said. Eric was a positive person he just lit up the room, Montag said. The community has really lost something.He will be sorely missed, Lamb said. He was a lot to a lot of people.Montag said funeral services will be held Wednesday in Steamboat. OHara will be buried Thursday at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Montag said.
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