Beaver Creek staple JW Busby recovering after head-on collision in Fairplay
Ski patroller known for his snow sculpture carvings faces a long path to recovery
Ski patroller JW Busby is clinging to life following a head-on vehicle collision on June 9 in Fairplay.
Paramedics who arrived at the scene thought he was dead, but after finding a heartbeat and airlifting Busby to St. Anthony’s in Lakewood, there’s now a good chance he’ll survive, Busby’s longtime friend Mary Gavin told the Vail Daily.
Busby is a well-known staple at Beaver Creek, where he has been a member of Beaver Creek Ski Patrol since the 1981-82 season, the resort’s second year of operation. Busby also works as a caretaker at the Wiltshire town homes in Beaver Creek and carves the snow sculptures near the top of the Cinch Express Lift every season.
“He’s the unofficial Mayor of Beaver Creek,” Gavin said.
Gavin’s mother was friends with Busby, who has known Gavin since she was 2 years old. The two grew closer following Gavin’s mother’s death in 1990.
“We would always go to the rodeo together. They called him the Gypsy Cowboy; he was a free spirit,” Gavin said. “But as I’ve got to know him better over the last 10 years, I’ve grown more and more impressed with the person he is. … He does what needs to be done, without the accolades, and is always there for people in a pinch.”
Gavin has been receiving updates from Busby’s brother, Gary “Buzz” Busby, another well-known face around Beaver Creek.
Buzz said JW is under heavy sedation, but has been somewhat responsive, leaving the family optimistic for his survival.
But his stay in the hospital will be long and expensive, and Gavin is nervous that the Gypsy Cowboy will be saddled with debt upon exiting.
She set up an online fundraiser at GoFundMe.com, with a $20,000 goal.
“His recovery is going to take a while, so I just want to do everything I can to get him set up as solidly as possible for his recovery and eventual retirement,” Gavin said.