Losing her mom at 5 put snowboard racer on difficult path that led to 3 Olympics


Editor’s note: Deseret News reporter Amy Donaldson is in Pyeongchang, South Korea, covering the 2018 Winter Games. This is the 11th in a series of articles profiling Utahns competing in the Olympics.

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Faye Gulini didn’t have the luxury of easing into life.

“As a young child, you’re just floating through life and you kind of gradually mature,” said the Cottonwood Heights snowboarder who will compete in her third Olympics this week. “My experience was like, overnight I knew how painful life could be, and it scared me a lot.”

Gulini isn’t sure if she fell asleep or if her 5-year-old mind just wandered into some little girl fantasy.

“My first memory is that we were rolling,” she said of the single-car accident that claimed her mother’s life when she was five. “My dad and my brothers were in Flaming Gorge, floating the Green River. My older sister had a soccer game …so we stayed home, and we were driving to meet up with my dad and brothers. …I don’t know if she fell asleep or what, but it just looked like a tornado in front of me. I couldn’t tell what was going on. Things were breaking, and flying around and then we stopped. I believe we were upside down. I unbuckled my seatbelt and climbed out of my window.”

Little Faye walked around the mangled car to driver’s window.

“I started shaking her,” Faye said. “I wasn’t worried about death because I don’t think I understood what death was.”

She’s not sure how long she tried to rouse her mom, but eventually, she looked around and decided to go to the road for help.

She sat on the side of the road, cross-legged and bloody.

“I didn’t even know I was injured at that point,” Gulini said. “A semi-truck driver pulled up in front of me. He stopped, but he never got out of the car. …He was on his phone, and we just stared at each other.”

Two decades later, she knows how bizarre it must have been to see a tiny, bloody child on the side of the road. She didn’t seek his help, and he didn’t offer her any comfort. She assumes he called for help because, eventually, help arrived.

“It felt like hours later, but it was probably only another half hour, and an ambulance showed up,” she recalled. “They took me in one ambulance, and my mom in another ambulance.” They went to the same hospital, but she said her memory is kind of distorted by childhood and trauma.

“I remember crazy details about it,” she said. “Just random stuff, like, you know the neck brace they put on patients as a protocol? I hated that neck brace. I was fighting with them. I ended up getting stitches in both arms, and when they were done, it seemed like a whole day had gone by.”

While doctors tended to Gulini, police officers were searching for her father and brothers on the Green River.

“They ended up pulling my brothers …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories

      

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