About 1:15 a.m. Sunday, a blue 2016 Ford F-150 was westbound toward Pagosa Springs on U.S. 160 at milepost 154, the state police said, when the Ford F-150 drove off the right side of the road, struck a tree, and spun into a fence. The vehicle did not roll, said Trooper Jeffrey Chmielewski, a public information officer for the state police.
In the front right seat, Holly Buffington-Yake, 33, of Cortez, was ejected and was pronounced dead at the crash scene. Two boys ages 9 and 10 and a girl age 12 were seriously injured, Chmielewski said. Two girls ages 6 and 13 escaped with minor injuries. Only the 9-year-old boy wore seat belts, the patrol said in a press release.
The driver, Richard T. Yake, 33, of Cortez, was not injured. Yake is the founder of the Mighty Lightning Wrestling Club, and he, his wife and the children were returning from a weekend wrestling meet at Thunder Ridge High School, in Douglas County south of Denver. Three of the couple’s children participated in the meet.
Isaque Martinez, a longtime friend of Buffington-Yake’s, said the news was a “terrible shock” to the community.
“She was just an amazing person, and everything she did was for her family and her kids,” Martinez said. “She loved wrestling and was always at the matches cheering on the kids.”
A celebration of life will be held at 3-5 p.m. Saturday at the Cortez Fire Department.
Eileen Eichner, of the Dolores Wrestling Club, on Monday said the wrestling community planned a benefit for the Buffington-Yakes. She can be reached at DoloresWrestlingClub@hotmail.com.
Agencies in Archuleta County assisted at the scene, and the state police investigation continues. Drugs, alcohol and speed were not considered factors in the crash.