Hayden pastor involved in crash awake, breathing on his own
July 27, 2017
Friends and family of the Hayden pastor who was seriously injured in a rollover car crash Friday morning got more encouraging news Thursday.
Doug Zirkle, who is being treated at University of Colorado Hospital, was awake, and doctors had removed his ventilator.
"This is the first time he's been able to breath on his own 100 percent," said Kevin Kleckler, an elder at Mission of Grace Baptist Church, where Zirkle serves as pastor.
According to Kleckler, Zirkle suffered brain damage and broke his L-1 vertebra.
The broken vertebra was fused with titanium rods.
Zirkle has been moving his extremities, and parishioners are optimistic.
"We're ever hopeful, but really, it's hard to say," Klecker said. "I, as the church elder, am preparing for the long haul."
Kleckler and family members now have an idea of what caused Zirkle to crash his Jeep on U.S. Highway 40 about 10 miles west of Craig.
Zirkle and his wife, Lisa, were traveling to Victory Motors in Craig to have one of their cars serviced.
Zirkle never showed up at the dealership.
Since he was a child, Zirkle has had type-2 diabetes, and he uses a pump to help regulate his insulin.
Kleckler said they believe something was wrong with Zirkle's insulin levels.
"It just sort of clouds your thinking," Kleckler said.
Zirkle drove 9 miles past the turnoff for the dealership before crashing.
"Thank God, no one else was hurt," Kleckler said.
Zirkle’s daughter, Rachel, is collecting words of encouragement, prayers, memories and stories to send to her father to help and inspire him during his recovery.
Messages can be sent to Zirkle by emailing email@example.com by Aug. 1.
The church is collecting funds for Zirkle to help the family cover medical expenses. Donations and cards can be sent to Mission of Grace, PO Box 691, Hayden, CO 81639.
Any checks sent to the church should be marked with Benevolence Fund in the memo line.
In 2013, the church held fundraisers and a benefit concert to raise about $35,000 to help Zirkle pay for a kidney transplant.
"We've rallied behind his family once, and we will again," Kleckler said.
Kleckler is working to ensure services are held as normal on Sundays.
That may involve recruiting some pastors from outside the area.
Mission of Grace will host a taco lunch at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Donations will benefit the Zirkle family.