Dallas Duran, teen killed in train wreck, remembered before Eaton boys basketball game against Platte Valley
February 23, 2017
Proceeds from Thursday’s boys basketball game between Eaton and Platte Valley will go to Dallas Duran’s family. Duran died Wednesday when a train collided with the vehicle he was driving. Duran’s family also has started a GoFundMe page. Donations can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/rest-in-peace-dallas-duran. As of Thursday night, more than $8,000 of the $15,000 goal for the account had been donated.
KERSEY — With a postseason boys basketball game serving as a mere backdrop, the most telling adjectives of Eaton's game against rival Platte Valley on Thursday were a far cry from the usual ones. Quiet. Somber. Consoling.
A train crash in Eaton on Wednesday night took the life of 16-year-old Dallas Gavin Duran, a Greeley resident who studied and played basketball and baseball at Eaton High School.
Duran, a sophomore guard on the Reds basketball team, was recognized and remembered before Eaton's Patriot League district playoff game in perhaps the best place for Duran's family and Eaton's community to gain solace: at Platte Valley High School, within the sympathetic arms of a Kersey community just months removed from its own tragedy.
"I remember the last time I put my arm around (Duran) in practice; he just had a beautiful smile," Reds boys basketball coach Dean Grable said Thursday, moments before his team's game. "Our basketball family, we met as soon as they got to school. We hung out all morning together. We prayed together and decided whether we were going to play or not."
Grable and his heavy-hearted players spent the morning grieving, sharing memories of Duran and ultimately deciding they would play that night against Platte Valley, as scheduled.
"We think that's probably what (Duran) would have wanted us to do," Grable said.
If anyone could provide the comfort and understanding Eaton's athletes, students and community need right now, it's their longtime rivals in Kersey, Grable said.
"They're going to understand," he said. "They've gone through what we're going through. It couldn't be a better place to go play and honor him and Derek (Prescott) together. … It's bigger than basketball tonight."
Prescott was a Platte Valley junior who died in a car crash on Oct. 8
During Thursday's game, dozens of Duran's family members, classmates, teammates and friends donned white-and-red T-shirts with Duran's name and jersey number — No. 2 — printed on the back.
An Eaton student section that is normally raucous was solemn.
The hundreds of spectators in attendance observed a moment of silence before the National Anthem.
During pregame player introductions, Platte Valley athletic director Travis Stinar announced Prescott's name. He then announced Duran's name as the final intro. Spectators rose to their feet to recognize Duran and Prescott, a departure from the otherwise reserved environment.
Starters from the two teams took the court and exchanged hugs rather than their more customary intense, competitive stares.
Eaton began the game with only four players on the court. Platte Valley conceded the opening tip-off. Reds senior point guard Micah Dorsey — a close friend and teammate of Duran in basketball and baseball — gathered the ball and calmly held it while 12 seconds ran off the game clock before Eaton called a timeout, allowing the two teams to briefly huddle before beginning the game in earnest.
Eaton police Sgt. Kevin Sturch said police got a call from train dispatchers at 8:40 p.m. Wednesday, reporting a collision between a train and a vehicle at 5th Street and U.S. 85 in Eaton. The train tracks run just east of the highway at that location, and the crossing is controlled by stop signs.
The cause of the crash is not known. The Eaton Police Department's investigation was ongoing Thursday.
The freight train was southbound on the railroad tracks when the crash occurred. The vehicle was a four-door white sedan, Sturch said. The scene was cleared by about 3 a.m. Thursday and the train continued on its way.
Duran is the 10th person to die so far this year on Weld County roads. Through this date last year, five people had died.
Grable said Duran was a player on the rise.
And, from his first day donning red pinstripes on the baseball field, he made an impact.
Duran was the youngest starting third baseman in Reds history to win a state championship, first starting for Eaton before his freshman year as the Reds won a summer state championship in 2015.
Former Eaton baseball coach Bob Ervin coached Duran this past spring during Duran's freshman season.
Duran was far more than a good athlete, according to Ervin. He had a light-hearted, jovial personality and a smile bright enough to outshine the stadium.
"As an athlete, he was a coach's dream — talented, yet humble," Ervin said. "He enjoyed playing baseball. I think he just enjoyed life, because he was always happy, seemingly. … He certainly not only made my job last spring as the baseball coach better, but he made my life better."