Bake, craft sale will benefit crash victim

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Heather Matney, an operating room technician at Yampa Valley Medical Center, is among the many people deeply saddened by the tragedies that have befallen Yampa Valley residents in the past several months.

An air ambulance crash Jan. 11 that killed three crew members, including two YVMC employees, and seriously injured another, was among the heartbreaking accidents.

Then came a head-on collision on U.S. Highway 40 in late January that seriously injured two men, including Matney's co-worker, 26-year-old Jacob Martinez of Craig. Martinez is an operating room scrub technician at the hospital.

"There has been so much tragedy," Matney said. "We all need to stop and slow down and take a look at what we have and what we're grateful for."

Matney decided she wanted to do something to help Martinez, his wife and two young children. She has organized a craft and bake sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the YVMC cafeteria and is encouraging residents to support Martinez's cause.

"Being in a small community, I feel everybody should get involved," Matney said.

Martinez was driving east on U.S. 40 on Jan. 27 when he was hit head-on by a car driven by 34-year-old Jerome Velasquez of Idaho Springs. Velasquez apparently was attempting to pass a dump truck when the accident occurred, according to Colorado State Patrol reports.

Both men were taken to YVMC with critical injuries. Martinez later was transported to Denver Heath Medical Center, where he remained for at least a week before being transferred back to YVMC, where he is in good condition.

Vasquez was discharged Feb. 3, hospital spokeswoman Mindy Fontaine said.

The Colorado State Patrol has been investigating the accident. No charges had been filed as of Wednesday afternoon.

"It's going to take Jake a very, very long time before he can get back to work," Matney said, noting that funds raised at Saturday's bake and craft sale will help cover family expenses while he recovers.

"I'm actually not very close with him and his family, but it just seemed like the right thing to do," she said.

Matney is accepting donations of homemade arts and crafts and baked goods for the sale. She especially needs volunteers to help sell items.

Anyone interested in volunteering and/or donating items should call Matney at 846-7074.

The Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley is accepting monetary donations for the Jake Martinez Assistance Fund. For more information, call 871-0700.

-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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