Colby Burri: A Positive Outcome

Crystal Garza, Editor

On February 19, 2020 an accident occurred which affected one of our fellow seniors at AHS. In the early morning of February 19, Colby Burri was in a serious accident, one that could have ended a lot worse than what thankfully happened. 

Jennie Burri, Colby’s mom, had a few things to say about the accident and how it all played out. Most people heard about this accident through her facebook account, in which she kept all of her facebook friends up-to-date on the unfortunate event. 

Her first status update regarding Colby’s accident said “Today, I received a phone call no mother ever wants to get. Colby was involved in a very serious car accident. 1. Right now he is very stable. 2. He’s in one of the best hospitals for the injuries he has. 3. It’s been a long road from home to Denver, we’ve been supported by some very great first responders and medical staff. 4. He has serious facial injuries, but can see and is in typical Colby humor talking. 5. He wants WATER. 6. He is in surgery.” 

When asking Jennie how she found out about the accident, she replied with “The Sheriff’s Department phoned me. They told me it was really bad and to head to Scottsbluff as soon as possible.” When receiving calls like this, everyone has immediate thoughts, and Jennie says what her immediate thought was that she was “really glad that Colby’s dad, Neil was home from work. He’s an engineer for BNSF. I was also babysitting at the time, so I called my cousin and told her she needed to come get her baby right away.” 

It’s safe to say that Jennie’s motherly instincts kicked in at that moment. The whole situation is hard and Jennie mentioned that the hardest part throughout this incident so far has been “when we were in Denver and Chase was at home. I felt like I needed to be in both places at once. Colby needed me, but so did Chase. I was very lucky to have my family step up and be there for Chase. He found rides to/from Dever with them and spent a few mental health days with them. The long ambulance ride from Scottsbluff to Denver was also very stressful, the roads were icy and we went through several bits of snow. The weather prohibited flying the helicopter or the fixed wing plane.” 

The community has definitely been involved throughout this event, and so has the high school. Jennie mentioned that “The community has been great. Very caring! The school has also been a great help trying to figure out what needed to be done next. I know we were on the minds of many people in Chadron, Alliance, and Scottsbluff. FBLA decorated the house with posters and balloons on our dismissal day. Several people have brought over meals. And many more have just checked in, to see if we needed anything.” Also to mention, the money raised for “chuck a duck” hosted during half times at basketball games, a portion of the money was donated to Colby and his situation. It’s safe to say that through this accident it is helpful to keep a positive mindset, and Jennie mentioned that through the process, “Colby has always been Colby- great humor, high spirits. There were times he was a bit grouchy, but who wouldn’t be getting woken up every 4 hours.” 

It has been a long process, especially with the extensive amount of procedures Colby had to undergo. Jennie explained the surgeries a bit in detail by saying, “The first surgery was the longest and most extensive. It was close to 5 hours long, and they did it within an hour or so of us arriving in Denver. The doctor was amazed at how well Colby was doing considering his extensive facial injuries. He’s mentioned this every time we’ve been in contact with him.” “The other surgeries have been small since then. The Burn Doctor did a special mask called an amnion mask, to help with healing all the little cuts and scrapes. His original surgeon did another procedure to straighten his nose.” The next few surgeries include having another skin graft, and a surgery in which repairs the fractures around Colby’s eye socket. When asking Jennie about the healing process of it all, she said “We’ve had super care every step of the way. From BBGH, to RWMC, to our final stop at Swedish Medical Center in Denver. The doctors have been great. The ICU was great. We are still traveling back and forth for treatment and more surgery. But it has been a positive time and Colby is a fast healer.” Jennie says that this experience has taught her a lot and that the lesson was to “1.Wear your seat belt! Colby was wearing his, it probably saved his life. 2. Stay off county roads unless you need to be on them especially for younger drivers.” “3. Slow down when driving, be aware of your surroundings. 4. Stay off your phone when you are driving. Colby’s phone was taken out of his pocket by the ambulance crew, he was not distracted by it. The Alliance Ambulance Crew was amazing, we are lucky to have such a skilled crew in our community.” 

Colby is safe and healing up quickly, when talking to my classmate he mentioned that he did “not remember the accident. I remember driving down the road and then the next thing I knew I was on an ambulance.” “I was cruising around that morning before I went to college classes I know that for sure.” He says that he does not remember any initial thought after the impact and once he knew what his injuries were. He says, “Once I could see, though, it was a weird feeling seeing myself for the first time. It was almost a feeling of confusion, like honestly what happened. But now I’m just living life one day at a time and dealing with everything.” He mentions that he “is still in the middle of the healing process but it is mostly over.” “It definitely has been hectic the last couple of weeks trying to get to my appointments due to Covid-19.” 

He says that he has received a lot of support from the community especially from his friends and FBLA. “Once I got home the FBLA kids had made me signs and put up balloons for me at my house. That night my friends stopped over as well.” Colby says that he has learned a lot from this process, saying “I have learned to always be grateful for what you have, who knows when something could happen to you that takes everything away from you. You got to live in the moment and be happy for everything you have.” 

When asking one of his friends, senior Keegan Frohman, he mentioned a few things about this devastating incident. He found out through Erik Folchert, another one of Colby’s closest senior friends. Frohman’s initial thoughts were worry. “I was worried because I didn’t know how bad it was at first.”  When visiting Colby in Denver, Keegan mentioned that “It was hard to see him, but it was also a big relief because he is still here with us.” 

It’s true that any accident like this can greatly impact your family, but also your close friends, Keegan said that his friends and him were “all pretty paranoid because something like this can happen to anyone at any time.” He also mentioned that it was crazy that it had happened only a few months before graduation. Knowing that the class of 2020 could have potentially lost one of their peers right before graduation is a scary thought, but thankfully it didn’t happen like that. All the seniors are beyond grateful for the life of Colby and the perseverance he has had throughout it all. Colby says that he is doing “very well now, I wish I was able to drive at this point, but I am very happy with how well the healing process has come at this point,” and for that, the class of 2020 and all of the Alliance community is super grateful.