Slovakian women's story

Victims were small-town friends saving for college

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Miriana Feketova, 21, Nina Huskova, 22, and Monika Grigova, 23, arrived in the United States together, close friends from the same small town in Slovakia. They were college students with plans to work all summer in Steamboat Springs and return to school in the fall with big savings accounts. They lived together, sharing a place with one other Slovakian roommate.

The three friends had been in the United States for a month when they were killed in a July 24 car accident on Colorado Highway 9, said Greg Fasing, honorary consul for the Slovak Republic in Denver.

On July 24, Fasing received a call from the coroner's office telling him that Slovakians Feketova and Huskova had already died, but Grigova was still alive. He got in his car and drove toward Denver's St. Anthony's Medical Center where Grigova had been taken by Flight for Life.

"Ten minutes later she died," Fasing said.

All three bodies were cremated in Colorado and their remains were returned to Slovakia.

The women were among 20-plus seasonal Slovakian workers living in Steamboat this summer, Fasing said.

Fasing has talked to the two survivors of the car accident -- Juraj Polerecky and Gabriel Stasko -- as part of his attempt to collect the personal property of the three women and return it to their families.

"I'm sure people in Steamboat know this," Fasing said, "but the Slovakian families have been extremely grateful for the outpouring of support they have received from the people in Steamboat."

Fasing said he never met the women but saw a resume from one of their employers.

"She was a very accomplished young lady. Their lives were really cut short in a tragic way," he said. "They certainly would have gone on to greater accomplishments."

Feketova and Grigova both worked as bussers for Seasons at the Pond.

"They were the hardest working two girls," employer Marty Lepper said. "Their work ethic was very good. I think they would have been excellent servers, but they still needed a little help with language skills. They were willing to do anything you asked of them."

Seasons, along with several other companies in Steamboat that employ Czech or Slovak workers, is throwing a benefit to cover the costs of funeral arrangements and to help the one surviving roommate and the two survivors of the car accident in any way necessary, Lepper said.

"This is the only way we could think of to help their families," Lepper said. "Funeral arrangements can be very costly."

Already, Leper said, there has been a huge response from the Steamboat community and from across the state.

The fund-raiser will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday night in the Pavilion of the Steamboat Grand. Reservations can be made for the $25 dinner and cash bar by calling Bill Lepper at 879-4443.

Other sponsors of the event include the Steamboat Yacht Club, Blimpie's, Mazzola's, B&K Distributing, National Distributing, The Steamboat Grand and Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.

To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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