CRASH IN ADAMS COUNTY KILLS MOM, DAUGHTER AND INJURES SON - FAMILY GOING TO SCHOOL WHEN VAN, TRUCK COLLIDE
Rocky Mountain News (CO)
Tuesday, November 6, 2001
Author: Lynn Bartels News Staff Writer
Pat Finley uttered ``it's unbelievable'' over and over Monday as she tried to comprehend the traffic accident that killed her daughter-in-law and granddaughter, injured her grandson and drastically changed her son's life.
Deena Finley , 35, was taking her two children, Taren, 13, and Tyler, 12, to school in Brighton Monday when their minivan hit a dump truck.
``The little girl had a dance class at the school at 7 in the morning,'' Pat Finley said, adding her daughter-in-law was running late.
Deena Finley and Taren died at the scene. Tyler was in serious condition at Children's Hospital with a head injury.
His father, Reggie Finley , a Boulder firefighter and a Brighton volunteer firefighter, kept vigil throughout the night. Several firefighting friends, including Brian Eckelkamp, stayed with him.
Eckelkamp broke down as he relayed the statement Reggie Finley scribbled at his son's bedside.
`` Deena devoted 100 percent of her time for me and the kids and still found time to work full time and also volunteered for every school activity that came along,'' Reggie Finley wrote.
``Taren was a great kid who kept on us on our toes.
``They are both loved and missed more than words can say.''
The Colorado State Patrol reported that Deena Finley stopped at a stop sign at Picadilly Road and then turned onto East 120th Avenue into a dump truck that had the right of way.
Truck driver Steve Isakson, 47, of Denver, was treated at Platte Valley Hospital and released, Technician Rob Marone said.
The Brighton school district on Monday sent grief counselors to Overland Trail Middle School, where Taren and Tyler are enrolled, and to Henderson Elementary School, where Deena Finleyhad worked the last six years as a paraprofessional.
``She was very personable,'' Henderson principal Carol Viksne said. ``She had a great sense of humor. She was very flexible. She could step in at a moment's notice. She was wonderful.''
Deena and Reggie Finley were married 15 years. They lived next door to his parents, Pat and Ken Finley , in unincorporated Adams County.
``When they got married we built them a house next door because we wanted to make sure we were going to see them,'' Pat Finley said, her voice shaking.
Taren played volleyball, danced and loved horses, according to her father. Tyler, whose passion is hockey, had never received a grade less than an A until the last quarter.
``He thought it was the end of the world to get a B-plus,'' Reggie Finley said. ``All our thoughts and prayers are with him for a full recovery.''
FATHER MOURNS A FAMILY HALF THE SIZE - DEATHS OF HIS WIFE, DAUGHTER IN CRASH DEVASTATES FIREFIGHTER
Rocky Mountain News
Wednesday, November 21, 2001
Author: Lynn Bartels News Staff Writer
For 15 straight days, Reggie Finley of Adams County has focused on one goal: seeing his son Tyler become well enough to leave Children's Hospital.
That day arrived Tuesday, but Finley greeted it with trepidation.
``We're ready to get out of here, but we're not that sure we want to get home,'' he said.
Home - where every room, piece of furniture, painting, article of clothing, knickknack and piece of lint reminds Finley that his family is half the size it used to be.
His wife, Deena , 35, and their daughter, Taren, 13, died Nov. 5 in a traffic accident that left Tyler, 11, with a brain injury.
``It's been a nightmare,'' said Finley , 39, a Boulder firefighter and a volunteer battalion chief with the Greater Brighton Fire Department.
``My wife and I always said the worst thing would be losing one of our children. Imagine losing a child, your best friend and life partner and your remaining child is fighting for his life.''
Today, Finley will bury his wife of 16 years and his eldest child. He had delayed their funerals until his son was well enough to attend.
The service is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Brighton Methodist Church.
On Thursday the remaining two members of the Finley family will celebrate a bittersweet Thanksgiving and brace themselves for the days to come.
Such as Dec. 15, which would have been Taren's 14th birthday. And Dec. 25, when the Finleys planned to give their grandparents the family portrait they had recently taken. Or Jan. 8, which would have been Deena 's 36th birthday.
And Feb. 5, when Tyler will turn 12.
``We don't know yet what's going to happen with him,'' his father said.
Tyler suffered bleeding in the brain and massive swelling, said his doctor, Pam Wilson of Children's Hospital in Denver. With those kinds of injuries, people often find it more difficult to process information or to pay attention, she said.
``We're pretty optimistic that he's going to do well,'' Wilson said. `I think Tyler's going to have a terrific recovery. He's one lucky kid.''
Tyler was a passenger in a minivan driven by his mother. She turned into the path of a dump truck at East 120th Avenue and Picadilly Road while taking her children to Overland Trail Middle School on Nov. 5. Deena and Taren died at the scene.
Finley recalled he was working that day at Station 3 in Boulder when the chief and deputy chief arrived and called him into the office.
``I thought I was in trouble for something, and I didn't understand because I hadn't done anything wrong,'' he said.
The support the Finleys have received from family, friends and firefighters has been so overwhelming that at one point the hospital cracked down on the parade of well-wishers stopping by Tyler's room.
Finley made sure the video camera was rolling for certain guests.
Broncos quarterback Brian Griese visited Monday afternoon when he learned that Tyler was going to be released the next day. Earlier, Avalanche players Rick Berry, Brad Larsen and Scott Parker stopped by to give the avid hockey fan a jersey signed by the team.
Tyler smiled when asked about their visits, but didn't say much.
The quiet boy has become more quiet since he's come to understand his mother and sister's fate and the fact of his own injury.
``I don't know how Tyler is going to deal with everything because I don't know how I am going to deal with it,'' Finley said.
Rocky Mountain News
Tuesday, November 20, 2001
* DEENA MARIE FINLEY , 35, of Commerce City died Nov. 5. Services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, at Brighton United Methodist Church, with burial at Elmwood Cemetery. Mrs.Finley was born in Thornton on Jan. 8, 1966. She married Reggie Finley , 1981. She was a paraprofessional at Henderson Elementary School. She also sold Mary Kay products. Survivors include her husband; son Tyler of Commerce City; sister Denise Billinger of Brighton; mother Valerie Billinger of Brighton; grandparents Dorothy and Roger Snyder, both of Arizona.