Eagle teen killed in car wreck | VailDaily.com

Eagle teen killed in car wreck

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson/Post Independent Eagle Valley's Jake Brock pushes through the rain in the boys' 3,200 meters at the Demon Invitational track and field meet in Glenwood Springs in April. Brock died Thursday when, police say, a drunk driver crashed into the car he was riding in.

GRAND JUNCTION ” Friends say Jacob Brock was intense on the track, intense on the soccer field and a bit of a jokester when the coaches weren’t looking.

His teammates and teachers from Eagle Valley High School say they were devastated to hear that Brock, a recent graduate and close friend, died in a car accident on Interstate 70 Thursday night near Grand Junction.

He and his girlfriend, Jennifer Kois, 19, of Brighton, were both thrown from their car and killed after being rammed by a suspected drunk driver being chased by Colorado State Patrol, trooper Ron Greasley said.

Both Brock and Kois were students at Mesa State College.

“He was a fun kid and a hard worker,” said Jeff Schroll, Brock’s track coach. “He’s the kind of guy everyone gravitates toward.”

Patrick Strawmatt, 42, of Westminister, was arrested on suspicion of two counts of first degree murder and two counts of vehicular homicide, among several other charges, Greasley said. He’s being held on a $1 million bond in Mesa County Jail.

The state patrol received a call around 10:08 p.m. that a Toyota 4Runner was driving erratically on westbound I-70 near mile marker 49. The driver was later identified as Strawmatt.

As two state patrol cars waiting in the median pulled behind the Toyota, Strawmatt “flipped off” the troopers and quickly accelerated from about 30 mph to around 120 mph, Greasley said.

The pursuit lasted only a couple minutes and a few miles. The Toyota, which was swerving between lanes, slammed into the rear of a Saturn SC2, which was occupied by Brock and Kois.

Both cars went off the right shoulder of the highway and rolled over several times. Brock and Kois, who weren’t wearing seatbelts, were ejected during the roll, Greasley said. Kois died on the way to St. Mary’s Hospital, and Brock died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Strawmatt, who suffered moderate injuries, spit blood and cursed at emergency workers as they tried to pull him out of the wreckage, Greasley said.

The Grand Junction Sentinel reported that Strawmatt was a former Lafayette police officer and a bail bondsman who had his license revoked.

Park County Sheriff Fred Wedener told KUSA that Strawmatt attacked him when he was caught after a high-speed chase Feb. 15. The Park County District Attorney charged Strawmatt with eluding police, second degree assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, driving without a license and driving under the influence.

Strawmatt’s father, J.R. Strawmatt, told KUSA: “This is not my loving son I knew. He cared for kids and people. I don’t know what snapped. We are devastated by this. Our hearts are torn apart by what he has done.”

“He used to be one of the best guys you’d ever know,” he said. “I want him locked up. I don’t want him to get out.”

Brian Houlihan, Brock’s youth hockey coach, said he remembers the day and time he realized how much heart and drive Brock had running through his soul. They were on a youth hockey trip in Prague, and Houlihan was herding the kids onto a street car from downtown to their hotel.

“He came running around the corner, but he didn’t quite make it. When he caught up with us at the next stop, he just kept going!” Houlihan said. “Turns out he didn’t want to get on. He had bet the other kids he could outrun the street car and beat us to the hotel.”

When they arrived at the final stop, Brock was sitting there with his hand out and a look that said, “Pay me now,” Houlihan said.

Brock was a long distance runner for the Eagle Valley High School track team and holds the school record for the 2-mile run.

Schroll said if Brock had once vice, it was a hard-to-kick Mountain Dew habit.

“He always broke my No. 1 rule about not drinking pop, but he always had a Mountain Dew with him,” Schroll said. “That’s an OK vice to have though.”

Teammate Jaime Fernandez said Brock added a lot of fun and spirit to long, boring and sometimes grueling runs.

“He made it fun to be in track, always cracking jokes and doing silly thing,” Fernandez said. “Sometimes on those long distance runs, we’d go off the trail and skip rocks at the river. One time, he just started chasing a deer, and we all followed him. We never got caught.”

Brock also played soccer, and coach Chad Sloniker said it was hard to find a more intense player on the team.

“I can see him now running down the field, knocking people around ” he’s just one of those intense, very physical players,” Sloniker said. “He’s good to have on your team.”

Mark Strakbein, principal at Eagle Valley High School, said he’s watched Brock play for years.

“He had this intensity when you put him in a competitive situation, had had this drive you could actually see,” Strakbein said. “This is a horrible tragedy, an unfulfilled dream.”

Behind all that intensity though was a polite, courteous and thoughtful young man, said Merv Lapin, who was also on the youth hockey trip in East Europe.

“He was the all-American kid, very bright, a good athlete, very kind and courteous and always with a smile on his face,” Lapin said. “He had a great future ahead of him. My heart goes out to his family.”

Brock and Kois hadn’t been dating long but had developed a special relationship, Kois’ family said in statement released to KUSA-TV

“Even though they dated just a short time, you could see the love they had for each other in their eyes. These were two special kids who enjoyed spending their time together, with friends and family. They will both be truly, truly missed,” said Kois’s family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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