Friends and family of Joshua Ward, a Hayden man and driver involved in a fatal vehicle crash last week, are mourning his passing.
“Josh was the smartest, nicest guy I ever met,” said Blake Osburn, of Tulsa, Okla. “I’ve never seen anyone do a complete 180 with his life and become as successful as he was on his way to being.”
Ward is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol July 29 in a vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40, about a half-mile east of Wyman Museum in Moffat County.
He was allegedly passing in a no passing zone when he collided head-on with former Hayden police officer Carla Steele, who later died at The Memorial Hospital in Craig. She was 48.
Ward, 20, died Tuesday morning at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction due to complications from massive head trauma. He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, the Colorado State Patrol reported.
Ward, Osburn said, was someone who helped others.
“Josh was one of the greatest guys I ever knew,” he said. “He wasn’t selfish at all. He was really good at picking people up. He was able to pull people out of some dark places because of how he was able to turn his life around so dramatically.
“I loved him like a brother.”
Ward, originally from Tulsa, spent time in the Armed Services after high school and was stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base near Dallas. He moved to Hayden in December 2010 to be closer to family.
Ward was writing for a Web-based company while living in Hayden, Osburn said.
Osburn said Ward’s family will spread his ashes today in the Yampa River before making a trip to Tulsa to begin planning a memorial service.
Services for Steele will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday at Hayden Congregational Church. Interment will follow at Hayden Cemetery.
Osburn said he’s aware of the circumstances and suspicion surrounding Ward and the crash.
“I know for a fact Josh wasn’t on drugs because he didn’t do any,” he said.
He said drinking and driving wasn’t the kind of behavior that fit with the personality of his friend, either.
A toxicology report on Ward won’t be available for at least a month, the state patrol reported Thursday.
Trooper Heather Cobler, of the state patrol’s public information office, said suspicions about Ward’s possible substance use in Friday’s crash most likely stem from trooper observations at the crash scene.
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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