The article on Jan. 8, 2009, "Local couple injured in fatal wreck on Colorado 9," was an incomplete article that missed much larger points and that continues to haunt me, the mother of "the 19-year-old Denver woman that died" in the crash on Jan. 4.
Rachel had parents, and she had a life, and the article is yet another example of journalism that serves no purpose. When I contacted the reporter to ask why she did not contact me or Rachel's father for information on our daughter in addition to contacting the couple that also was involved in the crash, she responded, "Your daughter has a different last name." The newspaper also could have made substantive inquiry of the Colorado State Patrol investigating officer or the Grand County coroner and learned that the area where the crash occurred is known by authorities and locals alike to be extremely dangerous and that it has a long history of serious accidents. The accident that killed my daughter was on Sunday and the article ran on Thursday, but it seems there was not enough time to complete a reasonable piece of journalism, such as who was the young woman who was killed or what were the circumstances leading to this fatal crash.
Rachel was coming up to ski with me at our place in Steamboat before returning to the University of Northern Colorado to study nursing. We had talked twice the night before the crash about the conditions on Colorado Highway 9 and the need for her to drive with extreme care. The crash site was at the top of a slight south-facing hill where the road transitioned from dry and clear to icy and snow-packed. And that is where she died.
The development and population increase in Routt and Grand counties will bring more traffic to Colo. 9, increasing the probability for more accidents. Better that your paper report on the large number of accidents and fatalities that have occurred on the same stretch of road and the need for safety improvements in the future; or the fact communication improvements might be needed between law enforcement jurisdictions as it took me three hours to find out that my child had been killed after calling the State Patrol and every medical facility between Craig and Dillon. Looking at these larger issues and possible solutions would serve the Steamboat community better than just an article about a conversation between the people who survived this horrible crash that killed my only child.
Rachel has devoted the past four years to working after high school at Denver Children's Hospital, after-school child care programs, and Warren Village in Denver, a nonprofit organization that houses and trains homeless single parents to help them get a new start in life. A fund has been set up for Warren Village in Rachel's name and has raised $10,000 since her death. This is who the "19-year-old woman from Denver" was. And perhaps, that is the story that should have been told.