Rabbit Ears crash victim remembered as strong mother
July 9, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Zoe the English bulldog still is waiting by a front door in Littleton for Shelly Norris to return home.
Norris' ex-husband, Tom, and her two children also are grieving.
It's hard to believe Shelly is gone, they said.
"She was a good lady and a great mother," Tom Norris said Monday about Shelly, who died Saturday in a rollover crash on Rabbit Ears Pass.
"Two great kids are kind of lost right now," he said. "But we'll get through it, and it'll make us stronger."
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Tom Norris said that about once every other month, Shelly, 51, would travel to Steamboat Springs to escape the city and find some adventure in the mountains. He said she "just loved the place."
On her most recent trip, Shelly and her boyfriend, Dax Gergen, spent time in a cabin near Rabbit Ears Pass.
Shelly was riding with Gergen on Saturday afternoon in his 1981 Jeep Scrambler when Gergen lost control of the vehicle on U.S. Highway 40 and rolled it down a steep embankment near mile marker 149.
Gergen was wearing a seatbelt and survived the crash. Shelly was not buckled in and she was ejected from the vehicle as it rolled. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Colorado State Patrol confirmed Monday that a mechanical problem with the old vehicle's steering shaft caused Gergen to lose control and crash, and the driver will not be cited for the accident.
"It's just a bad tragedy," Tom Norris said.
He said for the past 10 years Shelly worked as the law office administrator for Miles Gersh LLC in downtown Denver.
When she returned home, sometimes after an 11-hour shift, Shelly would walk Zoe and kick back and read adventure novels. She also was passionate about high-heeled shoes.
"She was very hard working and she just loved life," Tom Norris said. "She was a great mom."
Their daughter, Haley, 21, is a dancer who studies at Red Rocks Community College. Their 25-year-old son, J.T., works at the Jet Hotel in downtown Denver.
Tom and Shelly were married for 23 years before they divorced nearly six years ago. Tom Norris said they've remained good friends ever since.
The couple grew up together in Huntingdon, Penn. He was a top jock. She was the head major of the band.
"It's just a bad tragedy," Tom Norris said about Saturday's accident. "My kids are just devastated."
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com