Help after accident prompts Denver woman’s heartfelt ‘thank you’ note – The Fort

Editor’s Note: Gina Morelli of Denver penned this as a Letter to the Editor to thank those who assisted her and her dogs following a crash on I-76 on May 22. While it was too long to run as a letter, we wanted to share her heartfelt, positive message with the community.

This story includes a few miracles and numerous local heroes who helped Eddie and Chiquita, two Chihuahuas or “Rat Dogs” as they’re affectionately called, find their way safely home to Denver. What was going to be a nice trip to the lake turned into an adventure in Morgan County that introduced us to some of the most generous and kind people you could ever hope to meet. The first miracle occurred when those two little rat dogs and their humans survived a truck and fifth wheel rollover accident with hardly a scratch. This occurred on highway 76 at mile marker 98, Saturday morning, May 22. Several people stopped to help and a few men broke into the truck to get us out. We didn’t get a chance to meet you but we sure appreciate your help.

Eddie, left, and Chiquita, Gina Morelli’s two dogs who escaped after surviving an accident on I-76 on May 22 in Morgan County. Chiquita was found that day, but Eddie was missing for two days before being rescued by a Hillrose resident. (Courtesy photo)

Neither dog had any injuries. They safely survived the accident but once the truck stopped they escaped and ran in opposite directions. Chiquita was running east down the middle of highway 76 with a line of cars following her. Josie and her daughter, Chrystine, picked me up in their truck and we found Chiquita over a mile away. A young man in his teens had somehow caught her and was waiting along the side of the road. So many thanks to that young man for doing what it took to stop a crazy, frightened Chihuahua. Many thanks to those two wonderful Fort Morgan women for all their help.

Back at the accident scene, Colorado State Patrol troopers and deputies of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department were handling the accident and keeping us safe. Their service and the heroic acts they perform on a daily bases are very much appreciated, especially on this day.

Hillrose Snyder Volunteer Fire Department personnel evaluated us for medical issues but no treatment was necessary. Once their duties at the scene were complete, Chief Rory Schilling showed such compassion in helping to find Eddie, who was still missing. He collected information on Eddie and put his photo on their department Facebook page. We subsequently found comments indicating Eddie had run west on highway 76. Several people who stopped at the accident had tried to catch him. Firefighters Zack and Bryant later drove me around the perimeter of the accident to look for Eddie.

The fifth wheel trailer involved in this accident also rolled with the walls exploding and spilling its contents everywhere. We collected items to take with us but the weather put a stop to that. A tornado warning and a visible funnel cloud forced us to evacuate the scene. Again, another Fort Morgan angel appeared. Daryl was driving to his camper trailer at Prewitt Reservoir. He took us and our saved possessions to Brush and helped us unload at a motel. He also offered the use of his camper at the lake if we needed to stay in town to look for Eddie. Daryl, your endless energy and strength is amazing. It was a pleasure getting to know you. Thank you so much.

I can’t say enough about the citizens who volunteer for this fire department. Cody and his wife came out on a cold rainy Saturday night to drive the highway looking for Eddie. On Sunday and Monday, Chief Rory coordinated efforts by text to find Eddie while my friends and I continued to search. Volunteer firefighter Marty and his wife, Jessica, came out on Sunday to help look for Eddie with their drone, but high winds cut their effort short. They offered their home for a place to regroup and refused any kind of compensation for their efforts and hospitality. (Shout out to Bella, their Chihuahua mix.)

Firefighter Jack and his mother, Marge, whose property surrounds the accident scene, went out of their way to help, offering advice and a place to rest. On Saturday, when Jack and his sons learned of the missing dog, they went out on their ATVs looking for Eddie. Monday, when the winds died down, Jack took his ultralight aircraft up to take a look. An aerial search for a Chihuahua! This has to be a first! Again, on his own time and money. A heartfelt thank you Jack and Marge for your extraordinary efforts and hospitality.

Now for the final hero in this adventure. On Monday afternoon my friends from Denver dropped off Missing Dog” posters of Eddie at a truck stop in Brush. The clerk, Brittany, told them she read about Eddie Sunday night on the fire department’s Facebook page. She had been worrying about him. After her shift, Brittany went home to Hillrose but the missing Eddie was weighing heavily on her mind. She followed her intuition and went for a walk with her dogs. Within a few blocks of her home, her dogs keyed on something in the irrigation ditch and she went over to look. There was Eddie, curled in a ball on a grass shelf halfway down into the ditch. He’s alive!!! He was found two and a half miles from the accident scene. Eddie was ready to end this little adventure. He let Brittany pick him up and take him to her home. You can imagine my enthusiastic reaction to her phone call.

Eddie survived wind, hail, rain, and the cold, surrounded by coyotes and fox, alone in a strange place. All of us from Denver who know and love Eddie and Chiquita: Patty, Debbie, Richard, Rachel and Adry, helped find Eddie, whether we were on foot, passing out lost dog posters or checking Facebook. Eddie and Chiquita brought us together that weekend with strangers. Those strangers are what this story is about. They are the heroes of Morgan County.

A huge thank you to each and every one of you who spent their time looking for a needle in a haystack. You are ALL heroes in our book!

— Gina, Chiquita and Super Eddie

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