Family of crash victim thankful for support

Joshua Kellogg
Hermosa Middle School Principal Mark Harris was critically injured in a car crash last weekend in Colorado and remains hospitalized in Albuquerque.

FARMINGTON — Family members of Hermosa Middle School Principal Mark Harris say they are grateful for the amount of community support they have received while Harris remains in critical condition due to injuries he suffered in a two-vehicle crash last week.

A resident of Red Mesas, Colo., Harris was driving north of his home June 29 in Colorado on La Plata Highway – Colo. Highway 140 – when a collision occurred between Harris’ car and a pickup truck pulling a horse trailer, according to Harris’ brother-in-law, Del Talley.

The Southern Ute Police Department did not respond to questions about the crash by deadline.

Harris was in critical condition Wednesday at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, according to UNM spokeswoman Furhana Afrid. Harris suffered multiple head injuries, multiple broken bones in his right leg, a broken bone in his left hand and a broken vertebrae, according to Talley.

Chris Pash, executive director of human resources for the Farmington Municipal School District, said district officials were deeply saddened by Harris’ crash and hope he has a speedy recovery. Harris was hired as the Hermosa principal in 2010 and was previously a teacher and assistant principal at Farmington High School.

“He’s one of the nicest guys you’re ever going to meet in your life,” Pash said.

The district staff is discussing possible plans to support Harris and his family, Pash said.

The amount of community support that has been developed to raise money for Harris’ recovery and help the family has been a beautiful thing, Talley said.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support,” Talley said.

Hermosa Middle School Principal Mark Harris gives a high five to Alex Martinez, left, and Cody Bedah on Feb. 5 at the school's Fantastic 7 Café in Farmington. A fundraiser for Harris and his family will be held in Farmington this weekend.

A GoFundMe page established to help pay for medical bills has raised more than $19,000 from 218 donors in five days.

Talley said a woman in Albuquerque has been housing and feeding members of Harris' family since she heard about crash. Harris was flown to the UNM hospital from the San Juan Regional Medical Center following the crash.

More than 300 people showed up for a pancake breakfast benefit Monday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Red Mesa, Colo., according to Talley. He said the fundraiser was originally scheduled to benefit a local Boy Scout troop, but church officials changed it after hearing about Harris’ crash.

“We can’t even put into words how wonderful everyone has been,” Talley said.

Church members have also been providing meals for the family and helping out any way they can, including changing the battery on Harris’ van.

In Farmington, the Stout Wrestling Academy at 915 Farmington Ave., Unit F, is hosting a sleepover event for children Friday night to raise funds for Harris.

Owner Levi Stout said he wanted to do something to help Harris’ family, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to them.

“He’s been such a positive impact on the community,” Stout said.

The event starts at 6 p.m. with dinner, and activities including kickball, dodge ball and wrestling with video game consoles setup for children to play. A movie also will be shown.

It will cost $15 per child, and children are not required to stay overnight, but those who do are required to bring sleeping gear. Contact the Stout Wrestling Academy at 505-609-0990 for more information.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.