Monday, January 28, 2008

A Word From Jason Coffey

Thank you for being supportive and understanding during this difficult time for my family and I. I just returned home from Wrightwood. The whole town is in shock. We are planning a memorial service and scholarship fund for Darren. Friends have also set-up a Web site for Darren, We plan to post everything there that people will need to know. It is snowing in Wrightwood right now and has affected Internet service in the town and so everything is not yet on the Web site that should be.

Please feel free to forward the following e-mail on or or any system to anyone that is interested in Darren. I don't know if anything has already been sent or not. I've already received multiple phone calls and e-mails, which is perfectly fine, but this e-mail from Gabe Garcia, Front Country District Ranger, San Bernardino National Forest, sums it up beautifully. Darren worked for the Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service, and this is an e-mail that went to all their workers on Saturday:


The Front Country Ranger District and the San Bernardino National Forest is deeply saddened to report today that our employee, Darren Coffey, passed away early this morning. Darren was back-country skiing with two friends near the Mountain High Resort, when an avalanche struck at about 1:30 p.m. trapping them beneath the snow. His two companions were able to surface on their own, while search and rescue efforts for Darren continued throughout the day. Darren was located at about 9:00 p.m., with vital signs, and was airlifted to the hospital. His passing was confirmed early this morning.

Darren, age 32, worked as a wildlife biologist on the Front Country District since September 2004, and worked previously as an intern on the Mountaintop District.

Although a wildlife biologist, Darren aspired to be a district botanist and took on many of the district�s botany projects including growing plants in the native plants nursery at Lytle Creek. He was involved in the big horn sheep project and he also worked closely with law enforcement and Mountaintop District employees in helping to close illegal OHV trails. Darren also worked on fire suppression rehabilitations, most recently contributing significantly to the Slide and Grass Valley teams.

Darren really cared about the forest and the work he was doing. He worked well with everyone and always tried to help people. He also cared a great deal for his community, and volunteered time to work with urban youth programs on the forest in partnership with the San Bernardino National Forest Association and the Bobby G. Vega Foundation.

Darren enjoyed being outside around plants and wildlife. He was an expert skier, and enjoyed backpacking and hiking. Darren lived in Wrightwood, where he had many close friends and family in the nearby area.

Darren positively affected so many people, and he will be greatly missed by all. Please keep his family and many friends in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Contact information for family condolences will be forwarded soon.

Gabe Garcia
Front Country District Ranger
San Bernardino National Forest

My brother Keith Coffey, a fireman in Rialto, CA, is the one that found Darren buried under six feet of snow. Keith use to work Ski Patrol for Mountain High and basically took command and control of the search efforts for Darren. Keith commandeered a snow-cat and headed up the mountain. At one point there were only two individuals looking for Darren; Keith and one of the skiers that was with Darren that day. I firmly believe that my brother Keith is a hero for what he did that day. If it was not for him and his efforts Darren may not have been found until sunrise the next day or even later. It was a blessing that Keith found Darren when he did because he would not have given up until he found him. Knowing Keith, he would have continued until he collapsed.
My youngest brother Eric Coffey, a musician in the Valley, coordinated efforts at the base of Mountain East. Eric got on the phone and called everyone he knew; and those then called everyone they knew. There was an army of Darren's friends at the base of Mountain East that night because of Eric. LA County prevented Eric and many others from going up the hill. That army of friends though followed the helicopter to the hospital. That army stayed until 3:30AM. They left after we escorted them to see Darren and say goodbye.
A full autopsy is pending, but the coroner's early reports suggest that Darren was immediately crushed with the enormous weight of six feet of snow. He believes that Darren did not suffer.
Darren was one of the most beautiful human beings you would have ever known. I do not know a single soul that did not like him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jason, I hope you and the family is recovering well from your tragic loss. Once again this is Troy Bruce's neice and Zane Bruce's daughter. I know that it is very hard to loss a family member. Especially when is it so abrupt. Darren, I heard, was an amazing person. And I truly believe that is true. My prayers are with you and your family.