Nearly 100 gather for memorial workout in honor of fallen Truckee sailor | SierraSun.com

Nearly 100 gather for memorial workout in honor of fallen Truckee sailor

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Community members gathered this weekend in Truckee to feel the burn and sweat it out to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a local Navy hero's death.

CrossFit Blizzard conducted a memorial workout Saturday for Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Andrew Collins, 25, who died in a Navy helicopter crash off the Virginia coast on Jan. 8, 2014.

"We've got a workout that we used to like to have him do," Myles Lewis, co-owner of CrossFit Blizzard, told the crowd. "Stuff that he used to get tortured with while he was a member here, so it's only fitting that you guys get to do the same thing."

It consisted of a 1,600-meter row on an exercise machine, 50 burpees, pulling 45 pounds or more for about 600 feet, and running roughly a mile while carrying an optional sandbag.

Among the roughly 90 participants was Capt. Ryan Stonebraker, California Highway Patrol Truckee area commander.

"This workout is really in remembrance of him, and it'll be tough, so we're kind of suffering in his name," he said.

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Collins joined CrossFit Blizzard on March 14, 2011, said Travis Weaver, co-owner of the business, in preparation of enlisting in the Navy.

"He always seemed to smile whether he was deep in the heart of a workout or not," Weaver recalled. "He always had a smile on his face. He was just fun loving and easy to be around."

Roughly $3,500 in donations were collected in Collins' name, with proceeds going to fund exercise programs for the Boys & Girls Club of Truckee and North Lake Tahoe.

"It's a way to give back to the community for everything that they've done for us," said Dani Helm, one of Collins' sisters, who participated in the workout. "How much the community came together for the last two events here at CrossFit … it's something I could never even imagine, so it's the least we could do."

Last February, CrossFit Blizzard, located at 10800 Pioneer Trail in Truckee, held a workout in honor of Collins, raising about $3,500 for the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe in recognition of Collins' love for dogs, Weaver said.

When asked why CrossFit Blizzard decided to hold the memorial workout this year, Weaver said: "We all are emotionally affected by his death, and we wanted to do something to recognize him and keep his memory alive and also for his dedication to the country."

The Collins memorial workout will be an annual event, he said.

"I don't think he would really believe that all of this is for him," Helm said. "I don't know if he realized how many lives he impacted, and what's awesome is that no one will ever let him be forgotten, so that's very touching."

Collins — who grew up in Truckee and attended Truckee Elementary, Sierra Mountain Middle and Truckee High schools — was a crewman on a five-man MH-53E Sea Dragon that was out on a routine training exercise for mine countermeasures when it caught fire and crashed into the Atlantic last January, according to the Navy.

The accident left Collins and both pilots — Lt. Sean Snyder, 39, and Lt. Wesley Van Dorn, 29 — dead, and two crew members injured.

Collins joined the Navy on Nov. 1, 2011, and had ambitions to become a Navy SEAL before being assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Fourteen based at Naval Station Norfolk.

Visit crossfitavalanche.com to learn more about CrossFit Blizzard and CrossFit Avalanche.