Family members pay tribute to crash victim
Rene Welch watched a few of her grandchildren at her Kremmling home on June 19 while their mother, Rebecca Wilie, made some deliveries for her job. Wilie spoke to Welch, her mother, when she passed Winter Park on her way to Kremmling.
As Wilie approached Hot Sulfur Springs around 5:30 p.m., a white GMC Acadia traveling eastbound drifted into the other lane, collided with Wilie and killed her.
“It had to be later and later,” Welch said. “I knew something was wrong. Then the coroner came to the door and I knew.
Welch texted one of his other daughters, Ariel Guerra, who had company at her house that night. Welch told Guerra to call her back as soon as possible, but Guerra tried several times without success. Then Guerra called Wilie, and when Wilie didn’t answer, she knew something was wrong. With company in her house, Guerra went out to call her father.
“I was probably out for about two hours crying,” Guerra said. “I couldn’t go inside. It was really difficult. We didn’t want to drill with the kids.
That night Welch also called his other daughter, Elizabeth Lawless. Lawless ignored the first call because she and her husband, Justin, were hiking in Horsetooth Reservoir with unreliable cell service. The couple went to Walmart, and while in the parking lot, Lawless took his mother’s second call.
“She told me, and I called my mom a liar probably 37,000 times and told her it wasn’t a joke,” Lawless said. “It’s not okay to lie to me about things like that. And then it clicked that it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, but it was real.
The family started coming to Kremmling this week to prepare for a service in Wilie’s honor and to support each other. They said Wilie’s smile, singing, humor and strong personality are some things they will never forget. Lawless also mentioned his love for surprises.
“She would randomly call me and say, ‘I’m 30 minutes from your house, get your kids ready, I’m taking her to the aquarium,'” Lawless said. “I’m like, ‘Wait, what? How long are you staying?’ and she said, ‘Oh, I’m going to stay for a few days.’ »
Lawless and Guerra said Wilie is doing her big sister role well. They remembered one day when they were in elementary school, and their mother was sick as her husband left early for work. The girls missed the bus to school, and after unsuccessfully trying to wake Welch, Wilie thought of a plan.
“We knew how to drive a kart,” Lawless said. “So (Wilie) stole mum’s van and drove us to school. I think she was 9 and I was 6.
Guerra recalled a time when a boy bullied her little brother, Seth, and she threw a soda at the bully in retaliation. With his Denver Broncos white jersey now ruined, the boy said he would tell Guerra’s mother what she had done.
“Becky acts like she’s a mom and was like ‘F— you, little kid!” Guerra said. “This kid was like, ‘I’m scared of his mother.’ It wasn’t even my mother, it was my sister.
Wilie never stepped out of her big sister role. After the girls wandered away from home, Wilie followed her mother from Grand Junction to Kremmling, separating her from her sisters in Grand Junction and Fort Collins. Lawless and Guerra said Wilie calls two or three times a month to get in touch with them.
“We (would) just spend three hours catching up on every minute of every day,” Lawless said. “It was like we were always next to each other in some way, even when I was mad at her.”
Lawless said Wilie grew up faster than her and Guerra. After Welch moved to Kremmling, the three sisters stayed in Grand Junction for a while. While Wilie had a three-bedroom apartment, a husband, and children, the two younger sisters were “still kids and crazy.”
“She welcomed us,” Lawless said. “She let us live there. She took care of us, fed us. We helped her clean up, helped her with the kids, but she made sure we stayed okay, that we had a roof over our heads.
While Wilie cared deeply for her siblings, she didn’t limit her kindness to them alone. Her sisters and mother said she was always ready to help anyone in need. Once, Wilie got into an accident and got out of her car to help the Colorado State Patrol direct traffic, trying to make sure no one else got hurt.
All three women said Wilie seemed to have a special connection to animals. She would rather catch a spider and take it outside than kill it, no matter how much her sisters protested. Although she hunted rabbits as a child, she was afraid of them as an adult.
To honor Wilie’s love for animals, the family will release ladybugs during a celebration of life Friday at Doc Ceriani Park Community Park in Kremling. This celebration will take place immediately after a service for Wilie at 11 a.m. at the Fairgrounds Dance Hall. The family invites everyone who knew her in the community to attend.
Wilie leaves behind four children aged 5, 12, 13 and 15.