Cody Boyds death
"I just happened to run a different errand, and I came upon
Boyds mother, Rhea Bluechel
By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer
Bluechel, left, and her son Cody Boyd. Nearly 200 people packed Haileys St. Charles
Catholic Church in Hailey Saturday for the youngsters memorial services. Photo
courtesy of Rhea Bluechel.
Last Wednesdays death of 9-year-old Cody Boyd sent a jolt of
disbelief and gut-felt sadness through Hailey and the Wood River Valley communities that
no doubt will continue to reverberate as police conduct investigations and as family,
friends and acquaintances work out what it means for a young life to end abruptly.
Word spread quickly of the tragedy, and within hours Wednesday, it seemed
almost everybody knew of the story, at least in broad-stroke form.
At 8:15 a.m., Boyd, was riding his bicycle to summer school at Hailey
Elementary. Boyd lived with his mother, Rhea Bluechel, 29, and sister Shaylee Stafford, 7,
on the north end of Second Avenue.
So the ride to school was a straight shot south. But at Bullion Street,
Boyd collided with "a large flatbed truck towing a large flatbed trailer," a
police report says, and he was massively injured. He died soon after at the Wood River
Medical Center in Hailey.
The truck and trailer never stopped, and at press time yesterday, police
still searched for the vehicle and its driver.
One disturbing twist to the story is the fact that Boyds mother and
sister were running errands Wednesday morning and, coincidentally, were two of the first
people to arrive at the gruesome scene.
During an interview at her house Friday, Bluechel described scooping palms
full of blood from her sons mouth before being held back by Pat Rainey, a passing
motorist who had stopped to help. On Friday, she appeared nearly cataleptic with grief.
By Friday afternoon, a half dozen family and friends had gathered in
Bluechels home to give comfort and support. A new kitten trotted obliviously through
the kitchen, while guests talked quietly in the living room. Uneaten pies and other baked
goods sat on the kitchen counter. Bluechels hands trembled while she sorted quickly
through a stack of photographs looking for a picture of her son to give to a reporter.
"I just happened to run a different errand, and I came upon
him," she said. She described the green helmet her son wore and the yellow and red
mountain bike he rode, and then she began sobbing.
Bluechel said she has lived in her Second Avenue home for eight years,
that she has worked as a dental assistant in Ketchum for seven years and that her
ex-husband, Cam Boyd, lives and works in Laguna Beach, Calif.
Boyds uncle, Alex Macdonald, remained stoic about the accident. He
emphasized that its more important for family and friends to focus on the loss of
Boyd, rather than on vengeance.
"I dont think theres any horrible news to come out,"
he said. "I think theres a legal issue and technically, by law, it could be a
criminal issue. As far as my actual feelings on it, Im not concerned. The worse case
scenario doesnt bring Cody back."
To help Boyds mother, sister and other family members contend with
their grief, Wood River Medical Center hospice worker Carolyn Nystrom arrived at the
Hailey medical center early Wednesday and at Bluechels house later in the day.
During a telephone interview Thursday, Nystrom said grieving is "very
individualized because everybody deals with grief in a different way."
Nystrom said the kind of grief brought on by the sudden death of a family
member can cause confusion and exaggerated guilt and anger and can be so severe that it
causes physical reactions like vomiting.
"Some cant get out of bed," she said. Years later,
milestone events, such as birthdays, can retrigger the sorrow. The grieving process, she
said, really never ends.
Nystrom said the hospice organizes monthly sessions of a group called
Compassionate Friends that usually has five to 12 members, some who had loved ones who
died over a decade earlier.
Boyds uncle Macdonald said a family trip scheduled to begin Sunday
would, with hope, provide some immediate relief for Bluechel.
Even for those with more remote connections to Boyd, his death was
A woman cried quietly while walking her dogs in Cold Springs south of
Ketchum Saturday morning. She said she wanted to get it out of her system before attending
memorial services in Hailey later that day.
Those who witnessed the immediate aftermath of the wreck said they were
Jeff Nevins, an assistant fire chief with Wood River Fire and Rescue, was
one three emergency medical technicians to arrive first on the scene. In a telephone
interview Monday, Nevins said Boyd suffered severe head and leg trauma, and that the
injuries were too extensive to be treated at the accident scene. Of all the injuries he
sees, he said, "children are always the worst ones. Kids are supposed to be innocent
bystanders. They dont deserve that kind of trauma."
Such emotionally disturbing accidents as Wednesdays can cause
excessive drinking and shortened careers among EMTs, Nevins said, a problem they try to
alleviate by meeting with a hospice worker to talk and to emotionally defuse.
Neighbors and passing motorists who arrived on the scene were also deeply
"Ive been sick all day," said Tom Hickey, a 15-year
resident who was interviewed at his house on Bullion Wednesday evening. Hickey said he ran
out to the intersection after he heard five or six blasts of a car horn that morning, but
he "kind of left" the area, because several other people had already arrived,
and the scene was so terrible.
Keith Nelson, interviewed at his grandfathers house on Bullion
Wednesday evening, didnt witness the event, but, he said, "It sucks
Its one of the saddest things Ive ever heard."
Neighbors, without exception, said they werent surprised a cyclist
had been hit by a motorist in the Old Hailey area. Bullion Street, they believe, is
especially dangerous, because traffic from the east side of town funnels onto the street
to take advantage of the stoplight where Bullion intersects Main Street.
The neighbors described drivers heading toward the intersection from three
blocks away, gunning their engines to make green lights. Some residents advocated more
signals and stop signs in and near the downtown area. Some said they want stricter police
enforcement of traffic laws.
Two residents said another bicyclist had been hit by a car and taken away
by ambulance a week earlier at the intersection of Third and Bullion, one block east of
where Boyd was killed.
"Its not fair to people who live here," said Vicky Raymer,
who said she has lived on Second Avenue for 12 years. "There are a lot of kids out on
these streets on bicycles. [Kids getting hit is] something we dont need happening in
our neighborhood. We dont need it happening anyplace."
Mike Jones, who lives on Bullion, said, "a lot of heavy trucks"
driving to construction sites in east Hailey make the problem worse, but he seemed
resigned to the situation.
"I dont know what they can do about it," he said
stoically. "The construction is going to go on. This is a growing area."
Nevertheless, he said, "I think they need to slow down."
During Saturdays memorial services, Speaker Wendy Collins reminded
mourners in the packed St. Charles Catholic Church in Hailey, however, to be careful about
"Bicycles arent bad, cars arent bad, trucks arent
bad, Gods not bad," she said. "Accidents happen, and whenever you think of
Cody, think about being safe
think about what youre doing."
Services began at noon. Nearly 200 people packed inside the old brick
church, while the local Boulder Brothers quintet harmonized with flute, voice and guitar.
Balloons ducked and bobbed on their strings outside. Near the pulpit, flowers and photos
of Boyd surrounded his closed, blond wood casket.
"Theres so many things about life that we dont
understand," Collins said. "No one really knows what accidents like this mean.
It doesnt seem possible that there could be something so wonderful as Cody taken
away and have that be a meaningless thing. Is it possible he got his work done in nine
years? We dont know
.Were here today to try to understand the
Its not clear whether anybody reached that understanding. But at
somewhere around 1 oclock, family and friends wheeled the casket down the aisle and
out of the church, where mourners followed and gathered.
Nine-year-old Cody Boyd was cremated later that day.