Decorated veteran of Iraq war hurt in hit-and-run, will miss wedding day

Cathleen Gustad, left, and Krisi Street show a photograph Thursday of Street and her fiance, Keith Gustad, 30, who was a hit-and-run victim early Sunday morning on E Road in Grand Junction. Cathleen Gustad is Keith’s mother.

This isn’t how it was supposed to be two weeks before their wedding.

But after a vehicle slammed into her fiance early Sunday morning, Krisi Street may well spend her wedding day, July 2, in a hospital room beside her future husband, Keith Gustad.

That a hit-and-run driver left 30-year-old Gustad injured on the side of the road upsets his family members further because, they said, he is the kind of guy who wouldn’t hesitate to help anybody.

“He had a call to help a friend finish a house in Montana, and he went,” Gustad’s mother, Cathleen Gustad, said Thursday.

Police are seeking leads about the driver of the vehicle who hit Gustad sometime early Sunday morning on E Road. The vehicle likely has extensive front-end damage, and Gustad’s hand went through the windshield. The impact of the crash sent Gustad flying into the ditch, and he was discovered about four hours later by Sgt. Peter Schimek of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department.

Gustad was walking the three blocks home after going out with a friend and was exchanging text messages with his brother at 12:30 a.m. when the texts stopped, Street said.

On Thursday, he was laid up at St. Mary’s Hospital after sustaining a broken pelvis, a skull fracture, a broken vertebrae, a puncture in his small intestine and multiple abrasions, Street said.

“He hasn’t quit apologizing, like he’s done something wrong,” Street said. “Every time a doctor sees his chart they say, ‘I didn’t expect to be talking to you right now.’ “

By most accounts, Gustad’s good physical health before the crash may have kept him alive, family said.

Gustad served for eight years in the Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance, helping military forces advance in the Iraq war, his mother said, adding he has eight combat medals.

“He called me once and said, ‘You know, I’m kind of tired of people shooting at me,’ ” Cathleen Gustad said about a phone call from her son while he was in Iraq. “But now he’s been hit by a car here. How someone can hit a person and left him ... I cannot wrap my mind around it at all.”

Street and Keith Gustad were to be married at Enterprise Community Hall, north of Fruita. They were to honeymoon in the Cayman Islands.

Those plans have been put on hold, and most of the vendors for their wedding have been understanding, Street said.

Gustad will be in a wheelchair for six to eight weeks, Street said.

The crash hasn’t daunted the couple’s love for each, family members said, as witnessed from the hospital room.

“He just keeps telling her, ‘I’m so glad I have a second chance,’ ” Street’s mom, Cathleen, said about him. “The minute she walks into the room, he just lights up.”


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