Colleagues remember former Hayden officer
August 2, 2011
“Carla was a very honored and respected police officer by all of us at the Hayden Police Department. I would go into any situation with Carla at my back.”
— Gordon Booco, chief of the Hayden Police Department, on former officer Carla Steele, who died Friday in a vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40
Colleagues of a Hayden woman and former town police officer who died Friday in a vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40 recalled her Monday with fond memories.
Carla Steele, 48, died in a head-on collision about a half-mile east of Wyman Museum.
It's believed Steele was on her way to Tri-State Generation & Transmission, where she worked as a security guard.
"Carla was a very honored and respected police officer by all of us at the Hayden Police Department," Police Chief Gordon Booco said. "She was wonderful to work with, and I would go into any situation with Carla at my back."
Steele was traveling west toward Craig when Joshua Ward, 20, also of Hayden, allegedly struck Steele's vehicle while attempting to pass another vehicle in a no-passing zone, said Trooper Nate Reid of the Colorado State Patrol public affairs office.
Reid said Steele was taken to The Memorial Hospital in Craig, where she died.
The state patrol reported Ward died Tuesday morning at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, where he was taken following the crash.
Ward was suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Reid said.
Booco said he has known Steele since their time at the police academy.
"Carla was very outgoing, very happy and full of life," Booco said. "We had a lot of great times together and we had a lot of tough times together."
Hayden police officer Russ Davis also attended the police academy with Steele when she became post certified in May 1995. She started as a reserve officer with the Hayden Police Department until she was hired full time in October 2000.
"Carla fit in real well with all of us," Davis said. "We referred to her many times as just one of the guys. She was treated as an equal, she did her job and she was very book smart.
"She was a good officer, and she was well liked and well respected by the members of the community and the department."
Steele worked as a full-time officer in Hayden until her retirement in May 2009.
In that time, she was active with the Sexual Assault Response and Domestic Violence teams.
However, Booco said it was Steele's training as an emergency medical technician that made her a valuable addition to the department.
"Her training as an EMT came in handy many times as a police officer because we were usually the first ones on the scene," he said. "She was able to do a lot of things beyond CPR until the ambulance got there. She functioned very well under stressful circumstances."
Steele received her EMT training at Colorado Northwestern Community College from Hayden Fire Chief Bryan Rickman.
"As a student, she was great," Rickman said. "She was very bright and had very little trouble with the material. It just came naturally to her."
In addition to her career as a police officer, Steele also volunteered with the Hayden Fire Department and served as captain of the Emergency Medical Services division from 2006 to 2009.
"She was as good of an employee as you could ever ask for," Rickman said. "She was very cool-headed. She was a great lady, just rock solid. It's really a loss to the community."
Booco said Steele's death is felt by many in Hayden.
"In a town of this size, when you lose someone like Carla, the community really feels it," he said.
Steele is survived by four children, Anthony, Allan, Anna and Andrea.
A service will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday at Hayden Congregational Church. Burial will take place at Hayden Cemetery.
A memorial fund for Steele has been established at Mountain Valley Bank. Donations can be accepted at either the Hayden or Steamboat Springs branches. Proceeds will benefit a scholarship fund.