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Retired Bayfield Marshal in critical condition In Denver
10/1/2013 By: Melanie B. Mazur
The dream of a family hunting trip has not gone well this autumn.
Jim Harrington, who retired as Bayfield Marshal in 2009, is in critical condition at a Denver-area hospital after a horseback accident. He had packed one load of supplies in on horseback and was preparing to take his second load on Thursday when the horse hit him in the head, knocking him out, explained his wife, Robin Harrington. Then he fell over, and the horse reared up and hit a shunt in his brain from a previous injury.
"It was just a fluke thing," Robin Harrington said.
On Tuesday afternoon, doctors were trying to take him off of live support, but it was difficult for him to breathe, she said.
"He's busted up."
Their two sons, Luke and John, and daughter Savannah were at the hospital with them, and other relatives are arriving soon, she said. The boys left Tuesday to get home to go retrieve their camp equipment, then they will go back to Denver.
Robin Harrington said her husband keeps asking about work. He can't talk well, but wrote down TOB on paper, for Town of Bayfield. She's had to explain that he is retired from both the town and his job at the division of gaming for the Southern Ute Tribe.
Luke Harrington was with his father when the accident happened, and he administered CPR, contacted 911, got his dad in the truck and "hauled butt" until he got better cell phone reception, then met Upper Pine emergency staff at Vallecito dam.
"I was so happy he was able to do that," she said. "I've had to do it before, and I know how hard it is, especially when it's your dad."
Robin Harrington is an undersheriff with the La Plata County Sheriff's office.
She said her husband was so excited about all of their kids coming to hunting camp, and being able hunt this year with his granddaughter, who got her first elk last year.
Flight for Life got him to Mercy Regional Medical Center, then he was airlifted to Denver.
His injuries include a broken right collar bone, serious head injuries, a punctured lung, 10 broken ribs in his back, eight broken ribs on his right front and five on the left. He has a flaying chest, which means the rib cage is floating free and when he attempts to breathe it works opposite and pushes the rib cage in instead of out.
"Jim is a fighter and acknowledges his family and doctors with thumbs up or down when he is coherent," his family wrote in Caring Bridge, a website for medical patients. The site can be visited at
Robin Harrington said she is still in a state of disbelief about what happened.
"I just have to reassure him over and over," she said. "He's worried about his dog."
They were planning to take a vacation after hunting season, and his sons are joking with him that if he didn't want to hunt this year, he didn't have to go to this extreme to get out of the trip.
"We hunted up there every year," she said, usually with their kids and other family members.
"Life's short," she said with a sigh.
She is reading e-mail messages to him, which can be sent to Robin.Harrington@co.laplata.co.us.
Cards can be sent to
St. Anthony Hospital:
11600 W. 2nd Place
Lakewood, CO 80228
She said she appreciates all of the prayers and warm thoughts coming from back home and around the country.