Letters: Vail effort helped stranded motorists | VailDaily.com

Letters: Vail effort helped stranded motorists

Dwight Henninger
Vail Chief of Police
Vail CO, Colorado

On December 30 and 31, Vail Pass was closed for approximately 24 hours during the busiest travel week of the year. The humanitarian efforts shown by our community during this difficult time was truly remarkable as many of you put your own holiday plans on hold to come to the aid of hundreds of motorists who were stranded in Vail.

Primarily, I would like to thank the Salvation Army, specifically Dan Smith, who organized the opening of four shelters; two in Vail, one in Minturn and one in Eagle. During the closure, Dan and his crew fed and provided cots and blankets to more than 150 people. Stephanie Palmer from Vail Valley Medical Center graciously furnished the supplies that comfortably accommodated those spending the night in Vail. Eagle County Emergency Manager Barry Smith returned early from vacation to help coordinate this countywide effort.

I’d also like to extend my thanks and appreciation to numerous others, including the staff of the Vail Interfaith Chapel which opened its doors for overnight motorists; Bobby Bank, who reopened the Visitor Information Center in Lionshead to answer questions and direct our guests; the Vail firefighters who transported and set up the cots in the shelters; Town of Vail employees Jorge Mascarenas, Tito Montoya and Steve Wright who cleaned the shelter in the Town Council Chambers after closing; the Vail police officers, Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies and Colorado state troopers who stood out and braved the blinding 50 mph blowing snow and sub-zero temperatures to direct travelers off the interstate to safety; the Vail Public Safety Communications Center staff who answered thousands of questions from callers wondering what was happening and what they should do; Sgt. Samantha Graves of the Vail Police Department who, as the initial incident commander, orchestrated all of these events in a matter of a few busy hours; and to all the citizens and guests who waited patiently for the pass to reopen.

These individuals and organizations are to be commended for making the Vail Pass closure a safe one for those stranded during their holiday travels. The hospitality exhibited by this community will long be remembered by the many travelers who received assistance. Thank you again to everyone involved.

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