EVERGREEN, Colo. — A restaurant in Evergreen is closed indefinitely after the owner was involved in a serious car crash Sunday.
Mandi Evans is the co-owner of Elk Meadow Eatery and Market in Evergreen. After celebrating the holidays with her family early on Saturday, she was driving to her best friend's house Sunday night when she veered off the road for unknown reasons and was ejected from the vehicle.
Cossandra Evans tells Denver7 her sister was only a minute away from her house and was usually very diligent about wearing seatbelts but was not wearing one the night of the crash.
Mandi Evans’ best friend is a fire captain in Evergreen. He heard the call and was the first to arrive on the scene.
“We’ve had all the hard conversations with her doctors and figured out what her situation was, and there’s no brain activity,” said Cossandra.
The family is now getting ready to say their finial goodbyes to the mother of two and restaurant owner, who is being remembered for her generosity and selflessness.
“She’s the most giving, selfless person that I know," said Cossandra. "It’s astounding the outpouring of the community, how many people are coming and sharing with us the impact that she’s had on them."
She says Mandi was always looking for ways to help others and provided food for many. Cossandra even questioned at times how her sister stayed in business because she was so generous. During the pandemic when the restaurant had to close, Cossandra Evans says her sister even turned the eatery into a makeshift classroom for a bit to help students distance learn.
She is not sure the restaurant will ever reopen without her sister. Outside the Elk Meadow Eatery and Market Thursday, the doors are locked and a single bouquet of flowers sits on a picnic table outside.
With the restaurant closed, the family has started a GoFundMe account to help pay for her medical expenses and to support Mandi’s seven and nine-year-old sons.
“They don’t fully understand, but they each process things in their own way and they’re having a really hard time," said Cossandra. "They’re going to. I mean, this is Christmas for the rest of their lives."
So far, more than $50,000 has been raised, a testament to the impact she had on the community. In the comments, some wrote about her selfless spirit, while others talked about her delicious green chili.
Even as the family gets ready to say goodbye, they say Mandi is still showing her generosity for others by donating her organs. They are trying to honor that generous spirit by finding good in the tragedy.
“This is our worst nightmare, but what is a devastating Christmas for us is going to turn into a Christmas miracle for several other families, and that is just the best thing that we can find in all of this, and I know it’s what she would want," said Cossandra.
Mandi's sister is now encouraging everyone to wear their seatbelts, even for the shortest car rides. She's also encouraging families to take time to hug and appreciate one another, particularly during the holidays, and be kind to others.
“We could just all use a little bit of her," said Cossandra. "She was a spitfire, she was feisty and she loved fiercely."