Moffat County High School student remembered fondly | SteamboatToday.com

Moffat County High School student remembered fondly

Candlelight vigil honors life of Torivio “Tory” Tovar

Andy Bockelman

The lives of many Moffat County High School students and Craig residents were changed when they heard the news that one of their own was gone.

Torivio Tovar was better known to people as Tory, and the 17-year-old who had inspired many smiles also prompted tears Friday when his Ford pickup struck an oncoming semi along U.S. Highway 40 just outside of Craig.

Tovar was killed almost immediately, but the memory of him could not be shaken quickly, as friends and family members took to social media to express their sorrow with sentiments.

Tovar was raised primarily in Craig by his grandparents, Paul and Reta Hall.

"He was very loved, and he was just such a good boy," Reta Hall said through tears.

Hall said her grandson was an outdoorsman, a lover of hunting, fishing and camping who rode dirt bikes and snowmobiles regularly. His 1997 F-250 was also a point of pride for the teen.

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The truck that Tovar maintained religiously took a backseat to another love this year, when he began dating Haley Bellin-VanGrandt in January. The two welcomed a son, Caemden Jace, on Oct. 9.

"He was so proud of his son," Hall said. "That baby was so chubby. Tory called him his chunky monkey."

Bellin-VanGrandt had been driving along the highway en route to Lay shortly after Tovar’s truck had collided with the semi and was halted by the resulting roadblock by law enforcement. When she learned the details, she feared the worst and was devastated when she got confirmation that he had been the unfortunate driver.

"It's still not real," she said, adding that she keeps holding out hope that Tovar will pop out unexpectedly and reveal that the entire experience was a bad prank.

Processing the emotions has been difficult because while she appreciates the intent behind the sympathy messages coming her way, it all feels overwhelming.

"I think it's hard not reach out to someone going through a loss, but you have to understand what they're going through and that they need their time and space," Bellin-VanGrandt said. "He's not going to see his kid grow up, and that's what hurts the most."

What was also painful was knowing how much her late boyfriend had matured in the past year with the intention of being a good father. He took school more seriously, found employment and set goals of becoming an electrical lineman or oil rig operator to support his child.

An account on GoFundMe has been set up to assist Bellin-VanGrandt and Caemden financially. Another memorial fund is also in the process of being set up by community members.

"He wasn't always there physically because of school and work, but we would use FaceTime and Snapchat, and he would always tell me, 'I love you both,'" Bellin-VanGrandt said. "He would text me in the mornings and say, ‘No matter what happens today, just know that you're the one I'm going to spend the rest of my life with.'"

Tovar also had just finished exams at MCHS with plans to graduate a semester ahead of schedule.

"That's all he wanted was to show people that he could and he would and that he was going to turn his life around," said Bellin-VanGrandt’s friend, Jayme Schaffner.

Tovar’s popularity was considerable, Bellin-VanGrandt said.

"He was very outgoing, would always go up to people and say hi," she said. "He was loud, and he'd make himself known in a room even though he claimed to be shy."

A candlelight vigil was held Sunday night at Moffat County High School to honor Tovar’s memory. A large crowd of students, family members and community members gathered in the auditorium to hear a few words from Tony Bohrer, leader of the "If You Really Knew Me" program at MCHS this fall, and Bear River Young Life leader David Pressgrove.

"We're here to honor him and remember him, to honor the impact he had on our lives," Bohrer said.

Pressgrove told students about a memory book that was being created for Tory's son.

"Our goal tonight is to celebrate Tory. We hope to put a book together of memories, of letters written to Caemden about his dad," Pressgrove said.

Those who wish to add to the memory book are welcome to submit a story, letter or remembrance to Pressgrove at the Craig Daily Press office throughout the week or by email to storiesoftory@gmail.com.

The crowd dispersed to begin composing letters for the memory book before reconvening outside the school for a prayer and the vigil. Friends and acquaintances lingered afterward, sharing stories and memories of Tovar.

"He would make anybody's day, no matter what," MCHS graduate Owen Nichols said. "We always joked around that there's never a dull moment with him."

Sophomore Jeb Gowdy agreed.

"He just always was a guy who could make you laugh easy. He always put a smile on your face," Gowdy said.

Funeral services for Tovar will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, though the location has yet to be determined.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com.