Mother in stable condition
By LYNETTE HAALAND
Four Points News
Vandegrift High School’s namesake’s father was killed on Friday night in a headon collision in Colorado. His mother is recovering from broken ribs.
John “Dutch” Vandegrift, 72, died in a crash occurred around 7 p.m. on Colorado Highway 172 and Mary Jane Vandegrift, 67, sustained broken ribs, and is currently stable in the hospital.
Formerly of Steiner Ranch, the Vandegrifts of Littleton, Colo., which is nearby Denver, were in the Durango area attending the Colorado Gold Star Parents Weekend for families who have lost a child since 2000 while serving in the military.
Their son and VHS’ namesake, 1st Lt. Matthew Ryan Vandegrift died April 21, 2008 at the age of 28 from injuries he suffered from a makeshift bomb that exploded in Basra, Iraq.
The Durango Herald reported that on Friday night, a red 2002 Dodge pickup driven by David Lemon, 52, of Ignacio, was heading east toward Ignacio when he lost control, crossed the center line and ran head-on into a white 2008 Toyota Rav4 being driven by John Vandegrift. The Toyota Rav4 tipped over onto its driver’s side, said Capt. Adrian Driscoll with the Colorado State Patrol.
“It looks like traffic slowed in front of him (Lemon), so he veered into on-coming traffic to avoid a rear-end and went head-on with Vandegrift,” Driscoll told the Herald.
Lemon was cited with careless driving causing death. No drugs or alcohol are suspected, and speed was not a factor. Everyone involved wore seat belts except Lemon and he had a 9-year-old boy in his truck, Driscoll told the Herald.
Charlie Little, VHS principal, shared with Viper staff and students over the weekend stating in an email:
“Since our campus opened in 2009, we have developed a deep and profound relationship with the family. I like to think the naming of the school, and the traditions and honor we have brought to the Vandegrift name played a meaningful part in their healing process (for Matthew). Many of you have become close to the family, and I know this will be difficult for you. If you ever met Dutch Vandegrift, you would understand the true loss to this world. He was a patriot, father, and remarkable role model for each of us.”
“For now, our thoughts and prayers are with Barrett and Mary Jane as they cope with this senseless tragedy. Both Dutch and Mary Jane shared a deep religious conviction, and I hope this will help sustain Barrett and Mary Jane during this time of unimaginable grief,” Little stated.
The Vandegrift’s two sons attended and graduated from Leander High School. The family moved to Colorado while Matthew was studying international business at Texas A&M University. He was an honor student at both LHS and A&M. He also participated in the Midshipmen Battalion NROTC program. Following graduation, Matthew returned to Littleton, when in 2005 he decided to continue the Vandegrift family tradition of serving America, by joining the United States Marine Corps.