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Friends, family unite for Breckenridge man who fell off taxi

Robert Allen
rallen@summitdaily.com
Breckenridge, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyFrom left, John, Tucker and Karen Hackett celebrate Tucker's fifth-grade graduation. Nearly two years later, John Hackett lies comatose in a Denver hospital after falling off a taxi.
ALL |

BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado ” A Breckenridge, Colorado man who fell off the back of a taxi on Main Street last weekend remains comatose after major brain surgery, but friends and family hold out hope for a strong recovery.

John Hackett, 41, is stable at St. Anthony Central Medical Center in Denver following removal of part of his skull to allow his brain to swell without damaging itself, according to his wife, Karen.

Hackett has major brain bruising on his left temporal lobe, according to his wife, who has shared updates on the website http://www.caringbridge.org.

Karen Hackett’s latest update to the site ” on Friday morning ” states that Thursday night her husband had a fever and was shivering.

“The neurosurgeon says he is still very sick but stable, so that is good. All of his numbers are good, and his brain temperature is normal,” she said on the site.

In a phone interview, Karen Hackett said it could be days to months before her husband’s return to consciousness.

“It’ll be touch and go,” she said of his recovery. “We don’t know how he’ll be until he’s taken out of sedation.”

Hackett works as a sales agent for Grand Timber Lodge in Breckenridge. His 12-year-old daughter, Tucker, is a seventh-grader at Summit Middle School.

Karen Hackett said the support from friends and the local community has been “awesome.”

A vigil was held for Hackett Friday night at Father Dyer United Methodist in Breckenridge. Friends and family ranging from California to New York have left messages on the website.

Hackett has been unconscious since the incident early March 1, when he lost his grip trying to hitch a ride on the back of a taxi van.

Randall Grimm, 26, was with Hackett when it happened.

“The guy is a great friend of mine ” like a father to me here in Summit County,” Grimm said.

The two had been drinking in downtown Breckenridge after a party Hackett hosted at his house, according to the Breckenridge Police Department.

They went to Salt Creek Steakhouse and Club on Lincoln Avenue, but upon finding it closed, returned to Main Street.

“They walked back down to Main Street and saw a taxi stopped at the corner. They decided to jump on the back to get a free ride,” according to the case report.

When police arrived, there was a crowd of about 20 pedestrians around Hackett. Grimm, however, didn’t immediately identify himself nor offer a statement.

He eventually went to the police station and explained what happened. Grimm was issued a $50 fine for hanging onto a moving vehicle, according to the case report.

Grand Timber Lodge owner Rob Millisor said Hackett is a respected broker in his office and that he and others are “hopeful about his outcome.”

“He’s a solid citizen and very good people, and unfortunately John made a mistake,” Millisor said. “That is definitely not his M.O. to do that ” and it’s sad because it’s one of a million times, and it happened to him.”

Hackett, a former Wall Street broker, spends his free time coaching Summit Middle School girls’ lacrosse.

Summit High School athletic director Amy Raymond said he’s refused offers to coach junior-varsity boys’ lacrosse because of his dedication to his team.

“He’s just passionate about it,” she said. “He’s spent countless hours of volunteer time. He loads girls up in his car and brings them to camps down in Denver.”

Hackett also has played an instrumental role on the Turf Team, which is raising money to install synthetic turf fields at the high school.

“He’s a strong guy,” Raymond said. “We know he’s going to pull through.”

The Hacketts built a home in Breckenridge nine years ago and left New York even though Karen was the first woman to serve on the New York Stock Exchange board of directors.

“They wanted to raise their daughter out here and not work a million hours a week,” Raymond said.

Matthew Murray, a retired stock broker living in the Cordillera neighborhood of Edwards, recalls working on the floors of the NYSE with Hackett.

“He’s just a very good, gregarious, fun, hard-working person,” Murray said.

Hackett met his wife while working at the stock exchange. He worked at Bear Stearns before moving to Breckenridge.

Karen fought tears as she described her husband: “John is the greatest father and greatest husband, and I know he’s going to make it through this just fine.”

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.


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