Keystone residents rally to support mother of dying friend Andrew Petrarca |

Keystone residents rally to support mother of dying friend Andrew Petrarca

Joe Moylan
Summit County resident Andrew Petrarca was taken off of life support Thursday. He's been in a coma for more than a month after being struck by an SUV while crossing U.S. Highway 6 in Keystone. Friends have launched a fundraising effort to help Ute, Petrarca's mother, pay for medical expenses.

A fundraising effort was launched Thursday, March 27, on behalf of Summit County resident Andrew Petrarca, who was struck by an SUV last month while crossing U.S. Highway 6 in Keystone.

Petrarca suffered massive brain trauma as a result of the crash and was flown to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, where he was placed into a medically induced coma. More than a month after the accident, Petrarca remains in the coma and doctors recently told his mother, Ute Petrarca, that her son will not recover from his injuries.

On Thursday, Ute made the decision to take her son off of life support. She did not expect him to make it through the night.

Friends of Petrarca’s were shocked and angry immediately following the February incident, but have since rallied to his mother’s aid. In an effort to help ease the burden of more than a month of medical expenses and to help raise money to have Petrarca cremated — in accordance with his dying wishes — friend Sarah Twiggy launched a fundraising effort on the crowdsourcing website

Their goal is to raise $4,000 before April 20. Donations can be made through the site by debit card, credit card or PayPal.

“Everyone who knew Andrew loved him and those who didn’t know him would have loved him if they met him,” Twiggy said. “He’s been my best friend for eight years — through all the different groups of friends, going to different schools — he’s always been the one steady person in my life.

“I wanted to do this for her (Ute) because of how close we are. I even call her ‘mom.’”

In addition to serving as a forum for making donations, the website includes a touching story Twiggy wrote about a young man and his mother on the rebound after their lives went south in their native Fresno, Calif.

According to Twiggy’s account, Petrarca — better known as “Sunshine” by his friends in Fresno or “Rooster” by those who know him locally — moved to Summit County in 2013 in search of better opportunities for himself and his mother after their home in Fresno went into foreclosure. In the immediate aftermath of losing their home, Petrarca and Ute spent their days wondering the streets and their nights sleeping in garages or spare bedrooms.

Twiggy, who at the time was already living in Summit County, learned of her buddy’s plight and offered to put him up until he got back on his feet, which didn’t take long, she said. Soon after making the trip from Fresno to Summit County, Petrarca landed a steady job at The Inn at Keystone and then got his own apartment.

Once securely on his own, Ute made the trip east to join her son in building a fresh start in a new home.

But Petrarca’s story of survival and perseverance came to a tragic end at about 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, when he was struck by a Ford Explorer while crossing U.S. Highway 6 near milepost 215 in Keystone. In addition to massive brain trauma, Petrarca suffered several broken ribs and a ruptured spleen, Twiggy said following the accident.

The crash occurred seven days after Petrarca’s 21st birthday.

The driver was not cited for the incident and alcohol was not a contributing factor, according to a Colorado State Patrol incident report.

For more information about Petrarca or to make a donation, visit his web page at

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