Following fatal crash, locals remember former Breckenridge Cannabis Company manager’s dedication to the craft
June 11, 2016
A Breckenridge woman who helped guide Backcountry Cannabis Company through the transition into retail, remembered for her constant smile and contagious laugh, died on Wednesday, March 23 after sustaining serious injuries from a car crash. Close friends remember Lauren Hoover as "inspirational" and "full of life," a woman who made the most of every moment.
"She packed everything into the day. She pretty much lived like everyone should — make every day count — and she did," Fiancé Brandon Austin said.
The 26-year-old died last Wednesday at St. Anthony's Lakewood Hospital, after being held for weeks in a medically-induced coma with severe brain trauma, according to a post by her sister on GoFundMe. During her commute to work, on an icy morning on March 2, Hoover was found unconscious after a collision on State Highway 6.
Friend and former manager Ali Nitka noted Hoover had been ejected from her vehicle, which had sustained substantial damage to the passenger side, near the intersection of Dillon Dam Road and Highway 6. A Flight For Life helicopter was unable to land in the snowy weather, so Hoover was transported by ambulance to Denver.
A Breckenridge resident for five years, Hoover touched many lives in such a short time period between her infectious smile and love for life.
"She cared about everybody, and accepted and loved everybody for who they were," Austin said. "She wanted everybody to be themselves. … She was just like a light to everybody."
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While CNN's "High Profits" documentary gave viewers a glimpse of the self-described "ganja smoking yogi," close friends revealed another side of her life. Max Gorodesky, a manager at Backcountry Cannabis Club who worked alongside Hoover for two years, recalled her dedication to work, fitness and everything she did. He noted on an average morning, Hoover would get up early to snowboard, run 12 miles and do yoga before working an evening shift at BCC.
"Her passion for the job and everything else she did outside of work, it was so infectious," Gorodesky said. "I can't tell you how blessed I feel being in a position where I could talk to her two hours a day running the store. She was absolutely an incredible person."
Gorodesky recalled Hoover would leave notes scattered about the office, including long to-do lists with a motivational note jotted at the end. Before Hoover closed at the end of the day, sometimes she would leave a note for Gorodesky too, for when he had to open at 7:30 a.m. the next day.
"She would leave some sort of note like, 'Hey Max, have a wonderful day. The sun's shining so enjoy the hell out of it,'" Gorodesky said. "It sounds so little, but seeing that note, I can't tell you how much that meant to me."
Nitka, who was later hired as Hoover's manager, added Lauren's loss has been "devastating."
"It just doesn't seem real," she added. "It's torn up a lot of people. This was a person who should not have been lost so young."
She remembered Hoover would arrive at the store with a smile every day, no matter the circumstances, during a turbulent time of change between moving to Airport Road and opening for retail sales.
"She had one of those contagious laughs that would go through the entire place," Nitka added.
Once, the two were hiking down from Mohawk Lakes near Breckenridge, when all of a sudden they found a moose, standing in the center of the trail and blocking their path.
"She had said for months she wanted to see one. Then, there it was 30 yards in front of us. It was a good sight," Nitka said. "We were sprinting. You're being charged down a trail with a moose she wanted to see and giggling the entire time."
After working as a manager at Breckenridge Cannabis Club, Hoover moved to work as a marketing manager and budtender for High Country Healing. She also worked part-time with Cultivating Spirits, pairing cannabis with food and drink in a fashion similar to a sommelier.
In her spare time, Hoover also taught free "Funky Buddha Fitness" classes at the Carter Park in Breckenridge, sharing her love of yoga with others.
"That was the whole goal to get people outside, into a different lifestyle, something more positive," Austin said.
"She did it purely because she loved being active, loved moving all the time," Gorodesky recalled. "Doing anything with her, it just became so much more fun."
A marathon runner, with every birthday Hoover would run the equivalent of her age in miles. In the future, Hoover had plans to travel to Thailand to get her yoga certification. She was also pursuing a business major through Colorado Mountain College and had obtained a copyright to sell her own line of yoga clothes.
"She had all of these plans," Nitka said. "She was one of one of those people who wanted to be better at everything she did."
As of Saturday morning, a GoFundMe account created by Hoover's sister raised just over $32,000 to help cover her medical bills, coupled with several encouraging notes left by friends and acquaintances.
"She would just want all of us to keep giving love and light that she reached out and gave to everyone else," Austin said.
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