2005-12-19 01:52:57 UTC
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Lynn Burton - Aspen Daily News Columnist
Sat 12/17/2005 06:00PM MST
Aspen area friends and musicians are mourning the loss of Tracy McLain,
who died in a car wreck east of Basalt on Friday afternoon.
"She was loved by everybody," said Dan Forde, one of the many area
musicians who played with McLain at one time or another for more than
20 years. "She had a voice bigger than her whole guitar case, and a
smile to carry it."
McLain, 45, a Basalt area resident, was southbound on Frying Pan Road
at approximately 1 p.m. Friday, when the 1999 Pontiac Grand Am she was
driving left the road and plunged into the Fryingpan River, according
to a Colorado State Patrol news release.
The vehicle struck several rocks before rolling and coming to rest on
its top in the river. Emergency responders found McLain submerged,
inside the vehicle. The cause of death is pending an autopsy.
"We can't tell if she died on impact or drowning," said Colorado State
Patrol Trooper Brian Cook, who investigated the accident. "The driver
had significant head injuries."
Cook said McLain was traveling about four miles east of Basalt and had
just come out of a moderate curve. Instead of continuing straight with
Frying Pan Road, she continued in a curved path, crossed the northbound
lane and then off the left side of the road and into the river.
"The speed limit is 35 mph, and speed is not considered a factor," Cook
said. The road was dry. Cook said McLain had just left the residence of
an elderly man that she cares for, and that she had no known health
McLain was well known as a country singer and guitarist. Forde said she
played with many local musicians through the years, including himself,
Hayden Gregg and John Sommers. Forde met McLain in 1969 when he first
moved to town, and she was a little girl.
"She used to sit on my lap at Divide Cabin and sing with me," Forde
Divide Cabin, a restaurant, was located at Snowmass where Krabloonik
now operates. Her father, Doug, operated sleigh rides out of Divide
Cabin at the time, Forde said. Doug McLain is also a musician, and is
listed with Tracy as a duo on the Great Divide Music Web site.
Forde said local folks are shaken by McLain's death. "That girl was
special," he said.
Forde and others especially admired McLain's devotion to her music, and
working to keep at it as a professional musician, even though
performance venues have been drying up for the past 15-20 years.
"It's hard to stay in there for that long," he said. "But she always
had a following."