BAYFIELD – Chloe Wiebe walked around her son’s apartment. In the main room, the furniture was sparse and the door hung open on an empty, recently cleaned refrigerator. In his bedroom, rows of baseball hats hung on the wall. A jug of glue sat next to a completed puzzle, ready to be applied.
It is a scene of life in motion. But it is also a scene that came to a sudden stop.
Scott Wiebe, 39, of Bayfield, was found dead June 24, nine days after his fiancée, Roberta Rodriguez, 37, of Colorado Springs, fell into the South Fork River. Rodriguez’s body was recovered June 25, a day after Scott died.
Family members said Scott took his own life. In an obituary, they said he “died of a broken heart.” The La Plata County Coroner’s Office has not made a final determination on cause of death, saying autopsy and toxicology results are pending.
“Sometimes, it doesn’t even feel real,” said Brian Wiebe, Scott’s younger brother.
The Wiebe family memorialized Scott on Friday at Bayfield Church of Christ, struggling through a whirlwind of grief just weeks after his and his fiancée’s sudden deaths.
Chloe Wiebe said Roberta and Scott hit it off instantly. The couple met through mutual friends in 2017. Roberta, a mother of four, was an avid puzzler – decorating their shared upstairs apartment at Chloe and Ken Wiebe’s house with finished pieces. She was an adventurer and made “amazing” tacos and chicken tortilla soup, the Wiebe family said.
“They were always like a magnet,” said Tanya Basye, a family friend.
Brian, Chloe and Tanya sat at the kitchen table in the Wiebe’s house. On the table next to them, Scott’s childhood cowboy boots and a picture of him as a child were surrounded by sympathy cards.
“Oh my goodness, I’m way thankful for the time I got to spend with her,” said Chloe, referring to Roberta. Scott’s father, Ken, and Roberta had developed a close bond. Ken, whose health declined since the search for Roberta began and Scott died, is now in hospice care.
Scott was a father of three and a stepfather of one. He was a locksmith, and in his free time, he coached for the Young American Football League, led a Boy Scout troop and volunteered at school. Scott was an avid outdoorsman, often camping, fishing, hunting or off-roading in a rock crawler.
“A lot of people are worried about Brian,” Tanya said, patting Brian’s arm. “They were extremely tight, and Brian really admired and looked up to Scott.”
The two brothers, 1½ years apart, went through Bayfield High School together until Scott graduated in 1998. They worked together as pipeline surveyors afterward.
Scott, who was extremely competitive, was a wide receiver on the football team and a track athlete. At school, he looked out for his “little” brother. Brian was taller, often reminding Scott as kids that he could touch the ceiling first. “He got better grades than me,” Brian said.
The days after Roberta fell into the river, Scott looked broken, Tanya said, his eyes red and swollen from crying.
Roberta and Scott were driving home from Colorado Springs when they stopped in Wolf Creek Pass to look at the river, which was flowing at 1,800 cubic feet per second, nine times its seasonal average, according to SnoFlo. They had climbed over rocks near the riverbank and began to leave as it was getting dark. Scott heard Roberta splash into the water behind him and tried to catch up to her but the water was too fast, he told the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office at the time.
“You could tell he was very upset, he was extremely distraught. He communicated great. He never got really frustrated with us, but he was clearly distraught over it,” said Mineral County Sheriff Fred Hosselkus.
Chloe and Scott stayed at a motel in the area for several days. Mineral County Search and Rescue let them walk the river with the victim’s advocate. They asked how they could help, and the sheriff said they should find someplace more comfortable. The next day, Scott said he wanted to go home.
“The last few days, Scott kept saying, ‘I just don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how I could live without her,’” Chloe said. He couldn’t be in the apartment, staying for hours at a time before having to leave. He couldn’t sleep. Chloe told him, “You’ve got to sleep. You’re not thinking straight. You can’t make choices and decisions without sleeping.”
On Tuesday, just days before her son’s memorial service, Chloe couldn’t contain her grief.
“I am extremely thankful for the 39 years I’ve had with him,” Chloe said between the sudden sobs that seemed to come from deep inside her chest. Tonya’s eyes welled with tears, and Brian tilted his head down, the brim of his baseball hat shielding his face. “I’m thankful that he found true love,” Chloe said. I’m thankful that he found true happiness.”