Family remembers ‘free-spirited’ Tommy Montez, who was found in the Blue River
Brother: ’He was taken away very young, and he had an enormous amount of potential to do so much’
Family members and friends around Summit County and beyond mourned the death of Tommy Angel Montez over the holidays after he was found dead in the Blue River earlier this month.
On Dec. 14, the Breckenridge Police Department discovered his body in the Blue River near the Satellite Parking Lot. The Summit County Coroner’s Office has yet to release an official cause of death in the case while awaiting results from toxicology and histology testing, but officials believe he accidentally drowned in the river after stepping away from a small gathering with friends late the night before. He was 21 years old.
Those close to Tommy said he had a heart for adventure, which brought him to Summit County just weeks before his death.
“He was just a free-spirited kid,” Tommy’s older brother Nickolas Montez said. “I would see him rock climbing up giant mountains, cliff diving into lakes or mountain biking with friends. It’s just what he enjoyed. He felt free being outdoors. It was what his calling was.”
Tommy was born in a town called Lichtenfels in central Germany, a result of his father’s military career. When he was still young, the family moved to Hope Mills, North Carolina, and eventually to San Antonio, where he and his brothers grew up and made their way through school.
Throughout his childhood, Tommy took to whatever sport was in season, whether it was baseball, basketball, football or Ultimate Frisbee, and he even earned a spot on his high school varsity cross-country team when he was only a freshman. He also was musically inclined, and was able to teach himself songs on the piano and guitar by ear.
Nickolas said his brother’s personality was largely defined by a natural charisma, which drew in close friends with ease. Tommy also had a close relationship with his mother, Camillie.
“He spent a lot of time with my mom,” Nickolas said. “She was a very loving mother who took care of everyone. The friends my brother made, she pretty much treated like family. Every day, it was, ‘OK Tommy, how many friends are coming over today for dinner?’ She was like a mom to all of them.”
Tommy’s mother died in 2016, which Nicolas said took a toll on his brother. After graduating from Smithson Valley High School a year later, Tommy decided to move away from home. He first went to Utah, where he spent his time snowboarding, hiking and biking. He made the trip to Summit County earlier this year and quickly became attached to the area.
“He mentioned to me before that his ideal dream job was to be a ski patroller during the winter, and during the summer he wanted to be a trail guide leading people on different hikes,” Nickolas said. “He was young, and he always told me different ideas of what he wanted to do. But I think for him, going to Utah and Colorado, he was really kind of finding himself and realizing that being outdoors was something he loved and wanted to do. That was something he was passionate about.”
Tommy’s brothers Nickolas and Darren Jr., along with his father, Darren, all live in Texas and are planning a funeral service early next month. There will be a viewing for family and friends from 5-9 p.m. Jan. 7 and a funeral service at noon Jan. 8. Both the viewing and funeral service will be held at Sunset Memorial Park & Funeral Home, 1701 Austin Highway, San Antonio, 78218.
Anyone looking to help the Montez family with funeral costs and other expenses can donate to the Tommy Montez Memorial Fund on GoFundMe.com.
Nickolas said there already has been a flood of support from friends around Colorado, Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere.
“He made friends everywhere he went, and those friends were like family to him,” Nickolas said. “He had a very charismatic personality where his friends and their families fell in love with him and took him in and treated him like their own son. He’s had friends he played baseball with in middle school reaching out and friends from North Carolina from 12 years ago and the family he created in Utah. So we’ve had a tremendous amount of support from our family and the friends he’s made over the years.
“Everyone loved to be around him, and he loved to be around people. He’s going to be missed a lot. He was taken away very young, and he had an enormous amount of potential to do so much. It’s devastating that this happened. He was just overall a great kid.”
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