A pair of recent car accidents — one near Mountain Village, the other in Arizona — have taken the life of two locals and has left the Telluride community reeling.

On May 3, Chona Littlefield, a 48-year-old mother of three, was killed when a loose tire struck the vehicle she was travelling in. Littlefield, who worked at the Pick and Tomboy Tavern in Mountain Village, was en route to the Grand Canyon with her boyfriend, Brad “Obie” Oberlin, when the accident occurred.

Littlefield’s eldest child, Justin Littlefield, is a senior at Telluride High School and due to attend Colorado Mesa University in the fall. He and Littlefield lived in Telluride for the past six years, while his two younger brothers live with their father in Montrose.

High school principal Sara Kimble described Justin as “an amazing young man with a lot of support behind him. … His friends are a great support. He has had a couple friends staying with him. People have jumped on board providing meals for the week and we have raised some money to help with expenses.”

Supporters, in fact, are hoping to raise sufficient funds to allow Justin to remain in the apartment he shared with his mother until he leaves for college at the end of the summer. As of press time Thursday afternoon, $6,845 of a $10,000 goal had been raised.

Justin described his mom as kind and hardworking.

“She was just the kindest, nicest person,” he said. “She worked really hard to support me and my brothers. She would pick up extra shifts whenever she could … she had a great work ethic.”

He added that his mother “could be strict but she was fun, too. She loved us very much. When she met Obie, that was the happiest I have ever seen her.”

He echoed Kimble in emphasizing the enormous support he has been getting from friends and the wider school community.

“It’s just really weird to me. Nothing like this has ever happened and it’s all new,” he said. “My friends have been by my side continuously. They stay at my apartment with me each night – they won’t let me be there alone. It’s been nice.”

Justin said that there will be a memorial service for Littlefield with details to be announced. He is currently working with one of his teachers on writing an obituary for his mother that will be published in the Daily Planet.

A separate accident, a single-vehicle crash that took place April 29 on Highway 145 south of the entrance to Mountain Village, claimed the life of Mario Ausencio Texocotitla Lira, who had lived in the area for more than 10 years. The driver of the vehicle, Will Moran-Sosa, was subsequently arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including Vehicle Homicide and Driving Under the Influence. He has been released on bail, according to the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office. Colorado State Patrol is investigating the incident.

Texocotitla is survived by his parents, sister, brother and daughter, all of whom live in Mexico. He had worked at Smuggler’s Brewpub for about six years as a line cook. The restaurant hosted a memorial for the well-liked 42-year-old on May 5. Restaurant owner Josh Klein has been assisting Texocotitla’s family with repatriation arrangements. A online fundraiser collected $1,310 of a $10,000 goal, as of press time.

“Mario was not only a good worker, but he was always showing others how to live humbly and positively,” Klein said. “He carried himself in a kind and courteous way. This always was his nature and this never seemed like it was a task, it was just him.”

Those interested in supporting either family can visit gofundme.com. Texocotitla’s page is titled “Bring Mario Home,” while the page to assist Justin Littlefield can be found by searching for “fundraiser for Justin Littlefield.”