Aspen deaths are second tragedy for one Denver neighborhood
December 3, 2008
DENVER ” It’s mid-afternoon and Maria Ruiz is learning that this will be the toughest time of the day for her to get through.
“The kids are coming home from school now,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes on an unseasonably warm Tuesday afternoon. “It’s just so sad.”
She looked over at the tall, gray house next door, its porch lights still burning in the daylight. Ruiz took off her glasses and realized she’d never see the family that lived there again.
The house Ruiz saw belonged to the Lofgren family. They died last week while staying in an Aspen mansion, victims of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.
In this small neighborhood on Franklin Street, the deaths of Parker and Caroline Lofgren and their two children, 10-year-old Owen and 8-year-old Sophie, have hit hard. Not only because the children played with other kids on the street, but because it’s the second neighborhood family to essentially be wiped out within a year.
Last December, John Parr, his wife, Sandy Widener, and their 19-year-old daughter Chase were killed in a chain-reaction car crash on Interstate 80 in Wyoming.
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Sonja Leonard-Leonard, a real estate agent who lives across the street from the Lofgrens and brokered the house for the Parrs, said the word “jinxed” has crept into the neighborhood vocabulary.
“When it happened to the Parrs, it just gave everyone pause that life is so fragile and you have to be thankful for the life you have,” she said. “And when it happened again now with the Lofgrens, you think, ‘What is going on?’ The hardest part is trying to explain to the kids on the street what happened.”
The ripple effects of the tragedy don’t end on Franklin Street.
Both Owen and Sophie attended St. Anne’s Episcopal School ” a campus dealing with another tragedy that hit in August. On its website, it still has the memorial page up for 12-year-old Sam Masoudi and 8-year-old Grace Masoudi ” killed when a small plane hit the Oregon house in which they were staying.
St. Anne’s Headmaster Alan Smiley already had another memorial page posted for Owen and Sophie and said in a statement that the school is grappling with grief.
“St. Anne’s Episcopal School is grateful for the concern and support of the greater Denver area as we strive to recover from our most recent loss and our profound grief,” Smiley said. “We are blessed to have an exceptionally strong, supportive, caring community, and we are confident that this courage, love, and compassion will allow us all to get through these difficult times together.”
Many in the neighborhood will attend the public funeral Friday, but adjusting to the new silence at the house on Franklin Street is going to be a challenge for quite some time.
“They were such a sweet, nice family,” next-door neighbor Jenny Ennis said. “The kids would shovel snow for us sometimes in the winter and you’d hear them laughing and playing. It’s just hard to believe that they’re not going to be there anymore.”