Vail Valley searcher finds Izzy the pit bull; owner glad to be alive
EAST VAIL — Chance Patterson said he bears no ill will toward the woman who police say crossed into his lane of Interstate 70 and crashed head-on into him, killing one of his two dogs and putting him in the hospital with multiple broken bones and injuries.
“I just want her to know I’m not mad. She’s alive, I’m alive, and that’s all that matters,” Patterson said.
The Colorado State Patrol is charging Samantha Kellenberger, 24, of Denver, with vehicular assault with a DUI, a Class 4 felony, as well as DUI, reckless driving and criminal mischief. She makes her first court appearance at 9 a.m. on Tuesday before Eagle County Court Judge Katharine Sullivan. Kellenberger is free on $7,500 bond, according to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
ONE VIEW OF WHAT HAPPENED
Around 10 p.m. Saturday, Patterson finished his shift at Larkburger and was headed up to the top of Vail Pass where his RV is parked.
He forgot his phone and had to run back in to grab it.
“If I hadn’t done that, I might not have been in that crash,” Patterson said.
He was finally headed eastbound up Vail Pass toward his RV when he saw a pair of headlights coming toward him. After that, memories come in flashes and bits, he said.
He regained consciousness briefly, looked around and saw his German shepherd behind him, motionless.
“It was pretty clear it had passed away,” Patterson said.
He passed out again and awoke to the lifesaving din of firefighters and rescue workers cutting his car apart to extract him.
“Cover your face! Cover your nose!” they told Patterson, as his car filled with smoke.
“I kept asking everyone, ‘Am I in my lane?'”
“I was shoved so far under my steering wheel I could reach across and feel my broken femur,” Patterson said.
His right leg needed surgery, as did his right knee, right elbow and several other injuries. He’s recovering at the Vail Valley Medical Center.
It’s a little inconvenient because Patterson is right handed. He scrolled through some pictures on his phone to find a photo of his car, which was destroyed in the crash. It’s an unrecognizable pile of bent metal and busted glass.
“That Subaru saved my life,” Patterson said.
It took rescue workers minutes to cut Patterson out of his car, but perspective is everything, and time moves slowly when you’re floating in and out of consciousness.
“I remember them coming in from the back and putting the seat down to drag me out from the back,” Patterson said.
IZZY IS DOING FINE
In the meantime, Izzy the missing pitbull is alive and well and in her spot at Doggy Daycare and Spa but, more importantly, her owner Patterson’s heart.
“She walked in and went straight to her spot,” said Lisa Blazynski, who found Izzy on Thursday morning, or more accurately, Izzy found her.
Izzy is a tan and white pitbull that survived the crash. Scared and confused, she darted away from the scene. Several people have been looking for her all week.
While Patterson is working, Izzy spends some of her days in Holly Walther’s Doggy Daycare and Spa, where Walther, Blazynski and others look after her.
Walthers told Blazynski to come to work late Thursday morning, so Blazynski could spend a couple more hours searching Vail Pass for Izzy, as she and others had done the day before, and the day before that and so on.
“We were not going to give up. We were never giving up,” Blazynski said.
Blazynski parked her car at mile marker 185 along I-70 in East Vail and started walking down the bike path where Izzy had been spotted a few times this week, calling Izzy’s name.
“I prayed to St. Anthony, that if I found Izzy, I would never question anything again,” Blazynski said, smiling.
St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things. After a few miles down the path, Blazynski turned around to head back up.
“I stopped to tie my shoe, and she was right there behind me,” Blazynski said. “She ran up to me and knocked me over and slobbered all over my face.”
Izzy is thinner, but otherwise healthy, Blazynski said.
“Izzy looks unscathed,” Blazynski said. “She doesn’t have a scratch on her.”
They were getting her cleaned up Wednesday morning and were about to head to a veterinarian’s office to make sure she’s OK.
“For us to find her in this condition … hallelujah!” Blazynski said. “She’s happy, and we are so happy, too. It’s a happy day!”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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