Copyright - All Rights Reserved 2005
Saturday April 8, 2006
This is the story as I remember it with some input from Pablo and Jean. Written by Kathe.
We decided to clean our water well to give Pablo’s back a break from chopping jungle. At 7 am Pablo showed up to build a
cross bar over the well from which we could hang a pulley to make it easier to lift the mud and water out of the bottom of
our well which had not been used for at least 6 years. At around 8:30 Colleen, Jean and I showed up at the well to start work.
Co wore her snorkel, mask and fins to tease Pablo into thinking she thought she needed them. We got a good laugh out of
Colleen wanted to be the first one to go down in the well so we lowered the ladder and she slowly made her way down
approximately 15 feet to the water. Even though we had already removed a lot of water, it was still too deep, so we took out
more water so she could stand and reach down to get to the mud we needed to remove. She did a few buckets full and
decided that wasn’t such a fun job because there were a lot of bugs swimming around in the water. So, she came back up the
ladder and Pablo went down. After Pablo was down in the well we pulled the ladder back out because it is not a very big well
and the heavy, homemade wooden ladder was in the way of the work.
We worked for about 1 1/2 hours with Pablo in the well dipping the mud into a bucket and the three of us lifting it out and
dumping it to the side. We were making good progress when Pablo suddenly quietly said to get the ladder quickly….Co and I
caught the urgency in his voice and moved to quickly lower the ladder down into the well. As we lowered it he slumped to a
sitting position and was unconscious. Within 5 seconds Co got on the ladder and quickly made her way to Pablo and tried to
rouse him to climb the ladder. Jean ran to the motorhome to retrieve a duffle bag of ropes and cables. Within a very short
time, maybe 20-30 seconds, Colleen suddenly lost consciousness and fell forward face first into the water. I screamed at Jean
to hurry and within 2 seconds I leapt to the ladder and slipped down it to the bottom of the well and lifted Co’s head out of
the water and then very quickly lost consciousness.
When Jean returned the 80 or so yards to the well from the motorhome she found all three of us unconscious at the bottom of
the well. She had the presence of mind not to jump in there too as there is no way she could have helped any of us to get out
from down there. She stayed up on top yelling to all of us to wake up and get out of the well. Pablo was the first one to
respond and he raised up one arm and then struggled to his feet as Colleen and I were both sort of on top of him in a small
space. Pablo climbed up the ladder and he and Jean lowered a tow strap down to me and aroused me enough that I could put
the strap around Co’s chest and tie it in a knot. Pablo then stood groggily straddling the two sides of the well and lifted Co
straight up out of the well with assistance from Jean. That was a difficult time for the two of them as Jean does not speak
Spanish and Pablo does not speak English and coordinating their efforts was difficult.
Pablo got Colleen to the point where she was lying with her trunk on the top of the well with her legs still in the well and Jean
took over to get her out the rest of the way. Jean immediately started rescue breathing for Colleen. Pablo assisted me to get
out of the well which was difficult as the ladder did not reach all the way to the top, I was still very groggy, and was very
weak. The last few feet I had to brace myself with my back against one side and my feet against the other. At some point I
had the same strap around my chest (I don’t remember putting it there) and Pablo used it to help me. When I got out, I took
over the mouth to mouth resuscitation of Colleen and Jean ran to get the car and the cell phone. When she returned with the
cell phone I dialed 066 which is emergency assistance in this area. I gave the phone to Pablo and told him to get the
ambulance here…he communicated our situation very well and the police arrived shortly…we had to wait a while longer for
the ambulance. In the background I could hear the police on their radios urging on the ambulance and giving directions.
At some point Colleen started participating in her breathing and I continued to coordinate my breathing to her inspiratory
effort. Her breathing was labored. She had a radial pulse at all times of about 80 bpm and, though somewhat cyanotic at first,
she started to get less blue around her lips and ears.
Jean says that there were many police officers on scene…maybe as many as 15. Pablo, though still staggering from the
effects of the gases and his heroic effort to get himself, Colleen and me out of the well, had the presence of mind to walk to
the road and direct the emergency vehicles.
The story continues but this is all for now. Colleen is getting very good care and we have a wonderful support system of
friends and family. I hope to later post here that Colleen is in perfect health and is back to all of her previous activities.
4/13/2006 Colleen is still in Intensive Care but is breathing without the assistance of the ventilator....we have a long way to go.
I will periodically update this page as things change, but our travel adventure is on hold for now. Pray for Colleen.
4/15/2006 Colleen is still in ICU and is showing some signs of awakening...we are very hopeful.
4/20/2006 Colleen's pneumonia is improved today as the antibiotics kick in.....she is not responsive yet. She continues to get
wonderful nursing and medical care. The doctors here in Chetumal have done a 'kick ass' job of bringing her to this point and
their kindness and expertise will not be forgotten. The nurses are little angels!!!
Because the hospital here has limited access to newer antibiotics, more specific laboratory tests that Co needs and
rehabilitation facilities, we are going to be flying her out of here in the next day or so. The two choices are Merida and
Denver....we have to wait for a decision from our insurance company that will determine where she goes.
Wherever she ends up, I will be moving the motorhome there to continue to advocate for her on a daily basis. If she goes to
Denver, her wonderful brother, Jim, an internist in Denver will also be involved hands on....I am pulling for Denver. If I can't
be here in Chetumal, I would just as soon be close to family. My parents are here with me; they arrived from California last
night. They will travel with me to either Merida or Denver and help with the driving. They are the greatest and I so appreciate
their generosity and willingness to help in a time of crisis...they are almost 80 and look and act like 70...
If we drive to Denver, it will take 4 1/2 to 5 days of steady driving to get there...I will let you all know where we are
headed...I will be offline for part of the travel time....
Call in all your heavenly chits now my friends!!! Colleen needs a miracle and we can help create it.
4/23/2006 Colleen was airlifted to Denver on Thursday afternoon the 20th. I am enroute....in talking to family members with
her there, she continues to take baby steps toward recovery....she moved her head yesterday and maybe squeezed her father's
hand. I will arrive on Wednesday afternoon hopefully. The most wonderful thing happened on the evening of the 20th after
Colleen was in the air toward Denver....friends Harriet and John Halkyard who had been traveling in their RV in Central
America showed up to see us and after finding out that we were leaving the next early morning, have joined us and are leading
us to the US....all we have to do is drive....Colleen was our navigator and my parents are game, but working out routes down
here is not easy....so we have these two angels leading us...if you don't know the Halkyards, you can read about them in their
delightful book 99 Days to Panama....
4/27/2006 My parents and I arrived in Denver yesterday at around noon....it takes 5 1/2 days to get from Chetumal to
When Co first got to Denver she was in the ICU but has since been moved to a different kind of care in the same
She continues to breathe on her own but not as deeply as she should so she has a tracheostomy and is attached to a ventilator
which makes sure she breathes often enough and deeply enough. They took the feeding tube out of her nose and put it
directly into her stomach...the result of both of those procedures will make her more comfortable while she is recovering.
Yesterday she had an EEG and an MRI...we don't have the results yet.
I wish that I could tell you that she is sitting up and wondering how she got to Denver, but if those are her thoughts she is not
able to tell us yet. She has periods of time when she is more awake and her eyes are open. She also will open her eyes if you
make a loud noise or demand it persistently enough. With the trach tube she cannot vocalize but sometimes her mouth moves
as though she is inclined to tell us something. Today she very definitely squeezed her father's hand and she was frequently
wakeful in the afternoon....
We talk to her, we tell stories, we rub her feet, we move her joints so they don't stiffen and we play music for her.
Tomorrow her sister, Kathy, and I are taking some samples of different flavors to tempt her with though she can't
eat....chocolate is her favorite flavor in the whole world and we are taking some of that too....
Kathy, Colleen's father and my parents are all leaving tomorrow and Marilyn and Jerri are arriving from ABQ and Prescott
respectively...we will continue to provide stimulation when she is wakeful and just be there with her when she is asleep....this
will be a long process and we are very hopeful. The time schedule needs to be Colleen's...she is moving along as fast as she
I am in the motorhome nearby Jim and Nita Regan's home and about 20 minutes from the hospital...I have a cellphone now.
Write to me for the cellphone number and the phone number for the hospital room....I will send out updates periodically when
there is something to report....please feel free to write and ask if I haven't sent out an update in a while.
May 15, 2006 Colleen is still in the hospital in Denver. The docs are trying some stimulants to see if she will wake up. Hopes
are dimming for a recovery...there may be too much brain damage. This is excruciatingly difficult for me, her family and
May 22, 2006 I have not sent out an update because it is too hard to tell you that Colleen is not recovering.....maybe the soul
of Colleen is already soaring through the stratosphere on gossamer wings re-experiencing all the delights through which she
tripped during the 60's, conscious of new and wonderful worlds that she has always suspected were out there, and we are all
here in Denver, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Rome, Prescott, LA and other cities on this Earth tied to thinking that Colleen is her
I appreciate all the wonderful support that you have all provided....it means a lot to me...
June 8, 2006 Colleen and I are now in Santa Fe at my son's house as of 6/6. Colleen traveled by ambulance and I drove the
motorhome. I have the most wonderful family who has made room for us and all the equipment that is necessary for Colleen.
Friends and family have offered to assist with Colleen's care and we are in the best situation possible considering the
circumstances. Colleen has periods of wakefulness but it is difficult to know how much awareness there is. We still need
your prayers and continue to be thankful for great support from friends, family and complete strangers who are readers of
July 21, 2006 Colleen's body is failing. Look for Colleen as the chocolate eating, hot tubbing angel clicking her heels in glee at
her new adventure in a wider world.
August 9, 2006 Colleen has moved on to a new adventure in another dimension. If we whisper her name she will be here with
us. Her obituary is here. I am so sad.