A Letter To The Individual Who Found Justin

June 12, 2000

John Snyder

Dear John,

Since coming back to Oregon your recovery of Justin is all that has been on my mind.  The Rocky Mountain Rescue Group worked so hard to find him as did members of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Department.  We desperately wanted a person from one of the two groups to find Justin.  You did it with original thinking and a lot of very hard work.

We can not even begin to tell you how important your discovery is.  We know that animals would have gotten to Justin soon.  To have that happen to him would have rubbed salt into our already deep wounds of grieving.  It would have been the most disgraceful ending to this tragedy that could possibly happen.  Who knows how long it might have been before Justin was found if not for your dedication to volunteer rescue service.  I can truly tell you that Ann, Chuck, Susan and I have come back to Oregon with a huge piece that was missing in our ability to resolve Justin’s death.  That is the opportunity to privately see him again, touch him and say goodbye.  We spent a great deal of time on Saturday evening and Sunday morning being with Justin and talking to him.

John, the loss of Justin has devastated our family.  We know that he can never, ever be replaced.  But it is from the sum total of individual acts of kindness, courage and caring like yours that we are able to gain the strength to face each new day.  Never underestimate the power of the gift that you have given to us.  It is and will be a significant part of our life for as long as each of us live.  We know that this is also true for you.  When times get difficult and you are a little down on your luck please re-read the letters of love that we have sent to you and let them bring you positive energy.  You are a genuine hero in our minds.

I have enclosed a letter from Ann and two pictures of Justin for you.  He was a handsome, intelligent and enthusiastic young man.  We are so sad that you did not get to know him as a friend.  I want you to have the larger picture expertly framed if you would like.  I want to pay for the cost.  Please have the bill sent to me at my address on the outside of this envelope.  We want you to see Justin as he looked in life and not as he was when you found him.  We also hope that each time you look at his picture you will be reminded of the significance of your action.

If there is anything that we can ever do for you, please contact us.  You are and will always be a very special person in each of our lives.

In greatest gratitude,

Jerome Colonna, Justin’s father

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