‘My life was Terry’: Driveway shooting survivor recounts tough year


Witnessing remarkable strength, courage and resolve

Mary Harmeling, as a victim-services coordinator for the Grand Junction Police Department, worked with Linda Fine after the Oct. 11, 2008, shooting in front of Fines’ home that wounded her and a neighbor, Paco Larsen, and claimed the lives of her husband, Terry Fine, and a friend, Flo Gallagher.

“I can’t fathom the horror of witnessing a double murder and being so seriously wounded that I thought I was dying, too. And then when I realized I wasn’t, wishing I was dead,” wrote Harmeling, reflecting on her experience with Linda Fine.

“That’s just the beginning of the shocking horror that Linda Fine experienced a year ago. Imagine closing your eyes and seeing your beloved husband shot to death, over and over again. Imagine waking up after surgery to a body still so shattered that most movements were painful or constricted for months afterward. Imagine wondering how life could ever be meaningful again without your life partner and favorite girlfriend. Imagine finding sense in anything after your brain is jumbled by shock and trauma.

“The depth of strength, courage and resolve that Linda garnered in order to survive this horrendous experience both physically and emotionally is truly remarkable. I will always respect her as more than just a survivor. She is a person who has learned to value her ‘new’ life for what it is — far from perfect, but still a gift to be appreciated. We could all learn from Linda’s example.”

Linda Fine can lift her right arm, has even tried a little golf. She has ventured out alone from her home and might someday cast a fly again.

But her old pursuits never can be entirely the same.

Their center is gone.

“My life was Terry,” she said. “It was a full-time job. A wonderful full-time job.”

Linda Fine was struck four times by bullets that shattered her clavicle and sternum in a still-inexplicable attack that took place in her front yard a year ago today.

Other bullets stole her husband, Terry Fine, and a friend, Flo Gallagher.

Today, Fine and her family are hosting an open house at the Blue Moon Bar & Grille, 120 N. Seventh St., from 1 to 6 p.m. as a way of thanking friends, family, patients, police, the staff and physicians at St. Mary’s Hospital and others who helped them through the last year.

“Without the support of the community, this would have been a whole lot more unbearable,” said Brad Fine, one of Terry’s sons.

Linda was treated for a week at St. Mary’s and after her release began physical therapy on her right arm at SOAR Physical Therapy with Brett Smith.

“I couldn’t open the door, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t comb my hair,” except with her left hand, the nondominant one, she said.

She couldn’t drive, either.

Friends and relatives stepped in to fill the void, she said.

“Thank goodness for Terry’s boys,” she said, referring to Brad and his wife, Alicia, and his brother, Jeff of Denver.

Her daughter, Paula, and granddaughter, Tayvia, 10, also helped her through the past year, she said.

The physical pain of rehabilitation is distant enough that she can laugh, however haltingly, about it now.

As the year has passed, her body has done much to heal itself, including that shattered clavicle.

“It’s funny-shaped,” she said, “but I have one.”

The physical pain is less than half the battle she faces, however.

In the past two weeks, Fine has taken up golf again. But, she said, “Doing things alone has been hard.”

She looks forward to fly-fishing again with Terry’s former partner in their dental practice, Dr. Anthony Naranja, she said.

Were it up to Terry, he might have her fish as well as play golf.

Terry was always up for what Linda and the family call “the ‘ands.’ ” That is, he liked to fish play golf. Or play golf get in some fishing.

Fine still suffers from nightmares and is shaken by the mere act of peeking through the blinds, as she did that morning a year ago, when Mike and Flo Gallagher drove up to pick them up for a road trip to Las Vegas to see “Jersey Boys.” It really was Flo’s trip, and “she was so happy,” Fine said.

Of the attack, she constantly relives the what-ifs. For instance, what if they had been ready to leave at 9 instead of 8:30, as was the original plan?

Stefan Martin-Urban, the 22-year-old man who shot the Fines and Flo Gallagher and fired several shots at Mike Gallagher as he sped to St. Mary’s Hospital with badly wounded Linda Fine in the back, remains a menacing enigma.

“He didn’t say anything, even when he did it. He never touched any of us. He left no fingerprints,” Fine said. “He just walked into the yard, did his thing and left.”

Martin-Urban died later of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and he never spoke to police.

In that front yard, the work she has done since has been therapeutic. Her neighbors, too, were traumatized, and in the past year they have been drawn more closely together and have planted a community garden, she said.

“The support has been tremendous,” she said. “It’s affected the whole community. I want the community to know that I am doing well and am so thankful.”

Scholarships set up in the name of Terry Fine

“Although it has been an emotional and challenging year, we are grateful to continue to serve the patients that Dr. Fine loved so much and to work with the spirit of Terry’s legacy in our hearts,” the Fine & Naranja Dentistry said in a statement.

Contributions may be made to:

The University of Colorado Dental School through the University of Colorado Foundation, Attn: Gift Processing, Dr. Terry Fine Memorial Scholarship Fund, 4740 Walnut St., Boulder, CO, 80301.

The Mesa State College Foundation, Attn: Dr. Terry Fine Memorial Scholarship Fund, 1450 N. 12th St., Grand Junction, CO, 81501.

— Gary Harmon


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