A tragic lesson

It sounds more like the title of a book than the reality we have been forced to face in recent days.

Murder in a small town. Murder in Steamboat.

As the authorities work to solve the homicide of 31-year-old Lori Bases who was brutally killed in her Steamboat Springs apartment, we are left to wonder What happened? Why did it happen? Could it happen to me?

We have heard the talk, and we have considered it ourselves Is Steamboat becoming a more dangerous place to live?

It is a knee-jerk reaction to answer "yes."

There is no doubt that the murder of Bases was horrible. And the impact is being felt throughout Steamboat. Mental health professionals will say that's normal in a small town. When a bad thing happens in a place like this, it affects more than just those close to it, although that is where the true pain is felt. But the waves move outward from the epicenter of the tragedy as well, touching the rest of us and making us feel at least uneasy.

The murder of Lori Bases came just two days after another young woman was reportedly hit over the head with a bottle and cut with a broken piece of glass as she lay on the gravel of a playground.

The two brutal crimes so close to one another may seem too much to just brush off as coincidence. Instead, we may be tempted to resign ourselves to the fact that Steamboat is a changed town where violence is a part of life and there's nothing we can do about it.

We would be wrong.

Murder is a rare event in Routt County. We don't say that to brush over the death of Lori Bases or the pain her family and friends are feeling. Rather, our hearts go out to them during this most difficult of times.

But we must put the homicide in perspective. Murder happens in Routt County but not very often. The last time one person killed another was more than seven years ago. Throughout the human history of the valley, people have died at the hands of their fellow man. It has happened and it will happen again.

So we must accept that this most recent tragedy is the way things are in Routt County murder happens, rarely. That doesn't mean Steamboat is a dangerous place.

Steamboat Springs Public Safety Director J.D. Hays constantly urges residents to lock their doors and look out for themselves. We echo that and add our own urging: look out for each other.

One of the main reasons murder is rare here is that Routt County has traditionally been a close community where neighbors know neighbors and people take care of each other. It's not a perfect defense our history proves that but it's the best one we have.

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