Breckenridge couple overwhelmed by community support following head-on car crash
Fundraisers collect about $43,000 to help pay for medical bills, therapy and rent
Just as longtime Breckenridge locals Bethany Vargas and Anthony Aragon were moving on to the next chapter of their lives, they were suddenly forced to take a few steps backward.
Vargas and Aragon were leaving Summit County to return to Vargas’ home state of Florida after getting engaged July 11. The pair started their cross-country drive Sept. 1, and about four hours into the trip, Vargas’ car was struck head-on by a driver who crossed the Interstate 70 median in Colby, Kansas. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
The couple was caravaning with Aragon driving in front of Vargas, so Aragon watched the accident unfold in his rearview mirror. With the help of a truck driver, he was able to pry open Vargas’ truck door and discovered she was severely injured.
Vargas was taken to a hospital in Kansas, where they ultimately decided to fly her to Swedish Medical Center in Denver. She broke both her arms and wrists, and had to have metal rods and screws put in during surgery. She also broke her ankle and shattered her heel, warranting a full leg cast. She broke the orbital bones behind her eye, too, requiring additional surgery.
“I feel really grateful to be alive under the circumstances,” Vargas said. “I have a really long road of recovery ahead of me. I have had multiple surgeries already, but I will probably need more.”
The couple said they believe there was an angel in the truck with Vargas the day of the crash and that they’re blessed to be alive.
Their cat, Fleur, was also in the car with Vargas when the accident happened and was taken to an emergency vet. Vargas said Fleur is still recovering but is starting to get some of her sassy personality back.
Giampietro Pasta & Pizzeria in Breckenridge, where Aragon formerly worked as a manager, hosted multiple going away parties for the couple leading up to the accident. After the crash, the restaurant staff organized a fundraiser to help pay for medical bills, physical and emotional therapy, and rent for their Florida home.
Allyson Ertel is a server at the restaurant who remains a close friend of the couple.
“We’re all super close with them, and … we were just really excited for their new adventure,” Ertel said. “And when everything came to a screeching halt, we just knew that we had to chip in and help them in any way we could.”
Vargas said her medical bills will be close to $400,000 by the time she fully recovers, and a GoFundMe page created by the couple’s close friends has raised nearly $30,000.
“We were really grateful,” Aragon said about the help with expenses. “… Our focus was on Bethany’s well-being and trying to get back home to where we could take care of her. … I think overall it’s going to really help us with some of these bills that we’re starting to receive.”
Giampietro hosted a silent auction and raffle Sept. 14 with all proceeds going to the couple. All of the servers working that night also donated 100% of their tips. The restaurant’s efforts raised over $13,000.
Giampietro’s General Manager Melissa Lee walked up and down the streets of Breckenridge asking local businesses for donations, too, and more than 30 businesses donated gifts and gift cards for the silent auction as well as money for Vargas and Aragon.
Lee said she was blown away by the community’s support, with people who knew Vargas and Aragon and total strangers opening their checkbooks.
“It gave us all a lot of faith back in the community,” Lee said. “We were just saying there’s a lot of turmoil going on in the county right now … and this was just an opportunity for the whole community to come together and put all that aside and just focus on them.”
Vargas and Aragon said the support they have received has been a tremendous help, as neither of them are working during Vargas’ recovery. The couple is thankful to the entire community for the support, particularly the owners of Giampietro and Melanie Dunn, owner of BCB Salon and Vargas’ former employer.
“I always have said to my friends and people who live here that I felt like this community of locals, they’ll give you the shirt off their own back,” Vargas said. “They’re so kind and generous. I wasn’t there at the event, but I heard all about it, and to be able to hear about how people really stepped forward to put the event together and how absolutely generous they were and all of the support — I just am so grateful.”
Vargas and Aragon are at Vargas’ parents’ house in Breckenridge for the time being, playing it day by day. The couple still plans to move to Florida, but right now the focus is on Vargas’ recovery.
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