Steamboat Springs Kevin McCoy had lots of families - from his wife and son in Yampa and his extended family and hometown community in Bond, to the men he served with during his 5 years in the U.S. Navy and his railroad family at Union Pacific.
McCoy, who would have celebrated his 26th birthday Sunday, never got a chance to say goodbye to any of them, longtime family friend Cass Galloway said.
"He always hated saying goodbyes. Whenever he had to go back after (being on) leave, he just hated it," Galloway said.
Galloway recounted a story from several years ago, when McCoy stopped in to visit at her alpaca ranch near the community of McCoy, where he used to work for her during the summer.
"He had one of those silly things on his truck, that makes all the noises. He set off the siren and just said, 'Oh, I've got go,' hopped into his truck and sped off," Galloway said. "We were standing in the kitchen for an hour, thinking he'd come back, and he never did. He just couldn't say goodbye."
McCoy, a Yampa resident, unexpectedly died Jan. 23 of heart failure, according to Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg. McCoy was working to clear a rockslide from the railroad tracks near Toponas when he suddenly collapsed, Ryg said.
McCoy's partner administered CPR until an ambulance crew from the Yampa Fire Protection District arrived, but McCoy was pronounced dead on scene, Ryg said. His death is thought to have been caused by previously undiagnosed cardiomyopathy, a condition that causes enlargement and weakening of the heart, Ryg said.
"It's something you can never detect," Ryg said. "You'd never go to the doctor's office or the hospital until you have a problem, and when you have a problem, it's fatal."
McCoy was born in Glenwood Springs and grew up in Bond. He graduated from Eagle Valley High School in 2001 and went straight into the Navy after he graduated, Galloway said.
During his five years in the Navy, McCoy served with the Seabees, the naval construction force, and did tours in Jordan, Okinawa, Djibouti and Iraq.
"He built roads, rebuilt a hospital in Jordan," Galloway said. "He was just a really amazing person."
McCoy met his wife, Jennifer Lagos, while stationed at Port Hueneme in California, and brought her home to Colorado. McCoy lived in Yampa with his wife and their 19-month-old son, Cooper Michael McCoy. He began working for Union Pacific in 2006, joining his father and brother as a second-generation railroader.
McCoy and his wife recently had learned they are expecting their second child in September and had planned to surprise McCoy's family with the news.
"His dad's birthday is later this week, and they were going to surprise him with an ultrasound," Galloway said.
A memorial fund for McCoy's children has been set up at American National Bank, and friends and family are putting together a memory book with reflections and photos for Cooper and his little brother or sister, Galloway said. Entries can sent to Big Hat Ranch, P.O. Box 225, McCoy, CO 80463.
"These kids aren't going to know their father," Galloway said. "This way, they can look back on his life and maybe get in touch with people who knew him when they're older."
In addition to his wife and son, McCoy is survived by his parents Mike and Shelly McCoy, of Bond; in-laws Mike and Linda Lagos of California; brother, Kelsy McCoy and his wife, Holly, and their children Allissa, Delany and Cody, all of Bond; brother-in-law Shawn Lagos; grandparents Marilyn Miller, of Pueblo, Benito and Mollie Lagos, and Skip and Molly Ramsey, all of California.
"Everyone's taking it really, really hard," Galloway said. "Everybody loved him. He was funny, and he had this amazing ability to show up right when you needed help."
A celebration of McCoy's life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the McCoy school.