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Community helps crash victim recover

Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyMotorcycle accident victim Egle Petrauskaite holds her daughter, Tessa, while her other daughter, Nia, draws Tuesday in their Avon apartment.
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AVON, Colorado ” Egle Petrauskaite, 25, is quick to offer a shy smile and tell you she is fine, but the patchwork scars on her arm and thick brace on her leg say otherwise.

The Avon resident and single mother of two survived a motorcycle accident in August that killed her friend, Hugo Ascencio-Garcia, 42.

Ascencio-Garcia’s motorcycle lost control around a curve near McCoy on U.S. Highway 131 and hit a guardrail, ejecting both him and Petrauskaite. He died at the scene, and local residents administered medical treatment to both riders until an ambulance arrived at the scene about 40 minutes later.



Petrauskaite couldn’t remember the accident or anything that happened in the next four days, she said.

“I don’t remember anything ” I had to read the story in the newspaper to find out what happened,” she said.



But while she underwent a total of eight surgeries in her arm and leg at a Denver hospital, friends and strangers were quickly rounding up help.

Denny’s restaurant in Avon, where Ascencio-Garcia had worked, raised about $1,000 to buy a plane ticket to fly Petrauskaite’s mother from Lithuania. A Loaded Joe’s fundraiser organized by a friend paid for the rest of the ticket.

Her former bosses and co-workers quickly pitched in with the fundraiser, and when she returned home, many strangers offered monetary support, food and other help.



“For me, it’s overwhelming. I thought I was alone here,” said Petrauskaite, who came to the area from Lithuania five years ago. “I don’t have family here and not many friends. A lot of people were coming out of nowhere offering to help.”

She spent three weeks immobile after leaving the hospital, she said.

“It was awful pain,” she said of the days after her operations. “I was so scared. Thankfully I had my mom here. She kept me calm.”

Doctors say she will be able to put weight on the leg in about two months and walk normally in a year.

Petrauskaite also is caring for her two daughters, 8-month-old Tessa, and almost 3-year-old Nia.

It has been a rough time for Petrauskaite physically and mentally since the accident, said her friend Reda Johnson, who organized the fundraiser.

“The kids keep her going. She’s usually and still is, a very optimistic person,” Johnson said. “She still needs all the support she can get.”

Needing help is not something Petrauskaite is quick to admit ” but she doesn’t even know how to thank the people who have helped her, she said.

“I just want to say thank you to the people who were at the accident,” she said. “And I’m super thankful to the people at Denny’s. They didn’t even know me. And also to the people who came to Loaded Joe’s.

“I’ve gotten more than I ever expected. I’m feeling better everyday and trying to stay positive.”

If you would like to donate or offer help to Egle Petrauskaite, please contact the Vail Daily at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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


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