VAIL " A man who got in an car accident near Vail might not have survived the next three days without help from Vail Police and the Salvation Army, he said.
A paraplegic with little money at the time, Matthew Shadwick crashed his truck into a a concrete barrier and rolled it on Interstate 70 east of Vail in early February.
"They did wonderful," said Shadwick, who lives in southwestern Colorado near Durango. "As best as they could do, they accommodated me."
As they have done for many others, Vail police gave Shadwick food and shelter and bought him a Greyhound bus ticket home with money from the Salvation Army. Since the early 1980s, police departments in Eagle County have worked with the Salvation Army to provide stranded motorists with necessities such as food, shelter, gas and transportation.
People often unexpectedly stay in Eagle County due to road closures, car trouble and accidents, said Tsu Wolin-Brown, director of the Salvation Army in Edwards. Vail lacks public shelters, making the program even more important, she said.
"If your stranded here, trust me, it can be an emergency," Wolin-Brown said.
Motorists stay in the Vail Chapel or in the police station's lobby, but sometimes the Salvation Army buys them a night at a hotel room, Wolin-Brown said.
People traveling to places as far away as Missouri or Texas have received bus tickets home thanks to the Salvation Army, she said.
Local businesses help sometimes, too. Three Vail Valley car repair shops have fixed cars for stranded motorists at a discounted rate, she said. Hotels also sometimes give discounts and the occasional complimentary room, she said.
Police help stranded drivers because officers are available and easy to find, said Commander Susan Douglas of the Vail Police Department.
Some people might freeze to death sleeping in their cars without the program, Douglas said.
About 20 percent of the local Salvation Army's $200,000 budget goes to help stranded travelers, Wolin-Brown said.
Travelers undeserving of her charity probably scam her sometimes, but she would rather err on the side of generosity, she said.
"The goal is not to be hard-hearted, but to help people who need it," she said.
Shadwick and his dog, Hund, stayed in the Vail police station's lobby for two nights and the basement of the Vail Chapel for one, he said.
He had to wait three days for a Greyhound bus that a person with a handicap could ride, he said.
"My only beef is with Greyhound," he said.
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.
Out of a total of 676 people helped in 2006, the Salvation Army gave vouchers for gas to 29, helped 18 with lodging and bought 38 bus tickets.
If you need help, call (970) 926-3704 or the Vail Police for help
Source: Tsu Wolin-Brown, director for the Salvation Army