Vail Daily column: Valley rallies in support | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Valley rallies in support

Jason E. Glass
Valley Voices

Last Friday in Gypsum, the west end of our valley collectively held its breath. Cristopher Garcia, a wonderful 6-year-old boy attending Brush Creek Elementary, had fallen off a homecoming parade float and had a large portion of the left side of his body run over by the flatbed trailer that was carrying several other students taking part in the parade.

Cristopher was quickly pulled away from the next set of wheels, but a great deal of damage had already been done. Paramedics were on the scene in minutes and whisked Cristopher to the Vail Valley Medical Center, where he was stabilized and evaluated. These were serious injuries. The decision was quickly made to send Cristopher to Denver Health via helicopter where he could receive intensive and specialized pediatric trauma care.

As a father myself, I struggle to even imagine what Cristopher and his family have experienced the past few days. The pain, the fear and the shock of it all — in one moment so many lives pitched up in the air.

So far, we are getting good news. Though still in the hospital, Cristopher seems to be recovering well. Last weekend, he started breathing on his own, had many of his support tubes removed and began answering “yes” and “no” to questions by moving his head. His family tells us that his prognosis looks good. Turns out, Cristopher is one tough Brush Creek Elementary Bobcat!

Moments of near-tragedy like this are where our community shows its strength. Cristopher’s fellow classmates, principal and teachers have reached out to him and the family — expressing their support and love for this young person. The Eagle County Schools translation staff and counselor corps have been engaged to assist the family in navigating the health care maze and in coping with all of the emotion that comes with this sort of event.

While we are all supporting Cristopher and his family toward recovery, we’re also looking hard at safety protocols for parades and other events. As a dad myself, I’ve been to all kinds of parades across the community and this is not the first time we’ve had kids injured running out after candy or distracted by the spectacle of the event. For our part, we’re going to be evaluating our parade procedures and making some significant changes to ensure that nothing like this happens in our community again.

We certainly don’t want to over-react and spoil the fun of a parade for everyone, but a quick Internet search reveals how often tragic accidents like this happen. The safety of our kids is paramount and we’re going to make some changes going forward. It was an accident and nothing anyone would have wanted, but we have a responsibility to put in place a safer experience for our kids.

If you’d like to support Cristopher and his family as they navigate his recovery, then you can make a donation for him at any Eagle County First Bank branch under the Cristopher Garcia Benefit Fund. We are also accepting donations at any school office. Please take a moment to drop in and support this young person and his family. Both Eagle Valley High School and Brush Creek Elementary School have coordinated events since the accident to raise money to support this family. I am very proud of how our schools, and especially our students, have come together to help. I’m continuously amazed at the generosity and kindness of this community and I know we will come through for Cristopher.

Jason E. Glass is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at jason.glass@eagleschools.net.