Time to heal

This week’s front page reflects yet another week of tragedy.
Since December, The SUN has reported on numerous matters that have shaken this community to its core.
Dec. 14, 2017: “Aztec High School shooting victim has ties to Pagosa Springs” — a story about Maxine Lattin losing her great-granddaughter, Casey J. Marquez, in the tragic shooting at Aztec High School.
Dec. 21, 2017: “Two die in area vehicle accidents” — a story about Juliana Ellsmore losing her life in an accident on Wolf Creek Pass and, in a separate accident, a young father from Loveland suffered fatal injuries.
Jan. 4: “Bank robbed at gunpoint: Two in custody.”
Jan. 11: “Fatal accident: Speed in excess of 100 mph” — an accident where a car rolled, resulting in the death of Tuan Nguyen, of Pagosa Springs.
Feb. 1: “Life’s tragic lessons — Former resident among 16 victims shot at Marshall County High School” — an article about Hannah Dysinger, 15, being among 16 victims who were shot by a fellow student.
Feb. 8: “CDOT worker hit by vehicle, suffers severe injuries” — about Nolan Olson, a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) employee being struck by a vehicle.
Feb. 15 we followed up with: “CDOT worker dies from injuries sustained in Feb. 2 accident.” Also in that issue: “Local man assaulted, car stolen.”
March 1: “CDOT procession will bring remains of fallen employee home.” Also in that edition: “Jury trial for Chad Nystrom set: Accused of 2017 murder.”
March 8: “9-year-old boy dies in shooting incident.”
And just last week: “Suspect sought in burglary turned homicide.”
Unfortunately, this week’s news didn’t get any better, with a homicide-suicide, the death of a firefighter and Pagosa Fire Protection District board member, another suicide and a fatality on Wolf Creek Pass.
In addition to all of this, the sheriff’s office has responded to three attempted suicides, nine deaths, 12 domestic violence calls, 12 burglaries, four stolen vehicles, 1,301 calls for law enforcement service and made 120 arrests. Search and rescue has been called out on three missions this year.
And, since December, our obituary pages have been filled with numerous losses of friends and loved ones.
During every emergency, somebody is always the first to show up. Perhaps it’s law enforcement, the fire department, search and rescue teams or an EMT. Whoever does, this person is known as the first responder. When others of us avoid danger, they run into it.
These recent incidents remind us how precious these services are and, even more, how precious the people who serve us are. They put their lives on the line to protect and serve.
We’d like to recognize the agencies who provide invaluable services to our community during these difficult times: Pagosa Springs Police Department, Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office, Pagosa Fire Protection District, Archuleta County Combined Dispatch, Upper San Juan Search and Rescue and Incident Management Group, Archuleta County Coroner’s Office, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Department of Transportation, Archuleta County Public Works, Rise Against Violence, Town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Archuleta School District along with assistance from psychologists and social workers at San Juan Board of Cooperative Educational Services as well as counselors from Ignacio School District, Pagosa Springs Medical Center’s EMS/Ambulance services along with the Emergency Department, Surgical Services and Inpatient Department, and Axis Health System.
These are true heroes and they deserve to be honored as such.
This community has suffered great losses and, yet, our citizens are resilient and have pulled together, gathering for services, candlelight vigils and prayer meetings to find closure and hope.
It’s time to heal.

This story was posted on March 22, 2018.