Mark McCarron, R.I.P.: Remembering avalanche victim for more than marijuana
Shortly before an avalanche near Loveland Pass killed five people, Westminster's Mark McCarron died in a Vail Pass-area slide, triggering grief for his loved ones that was compounded when authorities mentioned that he and his party had been smoking marijuana, as if this legal activity might have contributed to the accident.
Big photos below.
Today, Mark McCarron is being laid to rest -- and his brother paints a portrait of the real man he knew while expressing anger at the way his death was portrayed.
There was a seventeen-year gap between Mark, who was 38 when he died, and his older sibling, Mike McCarron. But despite the age difference, Mike says all the McCarrons share a great deal, including a love of the outdoors.
"We're all avid rock climbers," Mike notes. "And many years ago, Mark came out here" from the Chicago area "to climb, following in the footsteps of his older brothers. We're all pretty seasoned outdoor folks, not only in the woods, but in the high country."
Mark on his 38th birthday with, from left to right, Brinna, Aislynn and Donna.
Indeed, McCarron rode the slopes for decades. "I bought him his first snowboard when he was in high school," Mike remembers. "He'd been doing it since he was fifteen," transitioning from the skateboarding that had occupied much of his time previously. "He was way-experienced and mountain-savvy."
For a long stretch, climbing was first among equals for Mark. "He used to run the Paradise Rock Gym, which was one of the first indoor rock-climbing gyms in the area," Mike notes. "He introduced thousands of people to the outdoor world of climbing through the gym -- gave them a way to appreciate and use the landscape around here."
But after Mark moved to a new position as a facilities manager for the city, Mike says, "he lived for snowboarding, outside of his family."
That family consisted of his wife, Donna, and two daughters, Brinna and Aislynn. Technically, Brinna was Mark's stepdaughter, but Mike stresses that he never made that distinction when it came to his unequivocal love for her. Brinna clearly feels the same way; in a note accompanying the photos she provided for this post, she took just four words to eloquently express her emotions. "He was my daddy," she wrote.
Mark worked in the evenings, giving him more time to spend with his loved ones -- especially Aislynn. Mike sums him up as a "super athlete and a loving father."
Which only made it that more painful for Mike and the entire clan when Mark's death wound up being linked to marijuana.
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