This time, Aspen man escapes canyon’s wrath

When the man who lost his family in 1995 to a rockslide in Glenwood Canyon heard Monday morning about the boulders that crashed onto Interstate 70 the previous night, he felt relief.

“Thank heavens that there was no one underneath this rock,” Aspen attorney Art Daily said. “That was my only reaction, was thank God this rock didn’t hit anybody. A lot of my friends were coming through (the canyon Sunday) night.”

That’s not to mention that Daily himself drove through some 90 minutes before the midnight torrent of boulders that tore holes in the interstate. But Daily isn’t dwelling on how remarkably close he came to having a second encounter with the canyon’s wrath.

“I came through almost an hour and a half ahead this time. I almost didn’t relate it to myself. In a sense I did, but you know that’s not going to happen to me again. If that sounds weird, you know you almost have to believe that.”

Fifteen years ago, Daily lost his wife, Kathy, and their two sons, Tanner, 10, and Shea, 6, when a boulder struck the vehicle he was driving through the canyon. Daily eventually remarried and had two more sons, and just last year, he and his wife, Allison, coauthored “Out of the Canyon,” a story about coping with loss and moving on with life.

Ironically, on Sunday night Daily was returning from one of his son’s hockey games, same as before the 1995 incident. This time his son, Burke, 12, and Burke’s friend were in the car.

Daily said he remains “intensely aware of the power of the canyon and what the canyon can do.” He thinks state highway officials work hard to use fencing to try to safeguard the canyon from rockfall, but he also doesn’t think complete protection is possible.

At the same time, he can’t hole up in Aspen and avoid driving through it, especially with sons who are active in sports. Daily estimates that he goes through the canyon about 10 times a year.

“It’s the only effective way to get from there to here,” he said.

He added, “You have to keep doing things. There’s no way to collectively protect ourselves against fate.”

The whole concept of fate remains a mystery to Daily, but he accepts its reality. He can’t explain why fate claimed his whole family in 1995, while leaving him alive to deal with their loss. But he also welcomes fate’s role in sparing him and his passengers Sunday night.

“I guess this was my turn to come through OK,” Daily said.


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