Casey Blanchard family

Casey Blanchard returned to his home in Stevensville last weekend. He had been receiving treatment at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City since March, when he was shot eight times in an attack that killed his friend, Shelley Hays, and wounded his mother, Julie Blanchard.

The suspect in that shooting is being held at the Missoula County jail. He is also being charged in a second shooting that same night that left Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer fighting for his life in the same Utah hospital as Blanchard. Palmer recently returned to his home in Stevensville as well, but remains unable to verbally communicate and must use a wheelchair to move around.

Tragically, only a few days after Casey Blanchard’s triumphant homecoming came the stunning news that Julie Blanchard had died at a hospital in Washington. She had been having respiratory problems, but the exact cause of death is still being investigated.

No words can adequately express the heartbreak and grief we share with Casey Blanchard and his family. He has experienced so much senseless loss over a few short months, it leaves us reeling.

Blanchard, who according to his wife is now a paraplegic and facing other limitations, has a rocky road ahead as he begins home-based therapy for his physical injuries. Additionally, he has the unimaginable task of coping with the loss of his friend, and now, his mother as well.

Thankfully, he will not travel this road alone. He has his friends and family, and the unflagging support of a caring and committed hometown.

In April, nearly 350 people attended a spaghetti dinner benefit in Stevensville that raised more than $26,000. Last month, a “Boost for Blanchard” fundraiser at Big Sky Brewery brought another strong wave of support for both Casey and Julie Blanchard.

A GoFundMe page set up to help offset other costs related to Casey Blanchard’s recovery has raised more than $7,500 toward its $10,000 goal at last count.

We have no doubt Casey’s neighbors in Stevensville, Missoula County and throughout western Montana will step forward to close the funding gap, as well as to offer continued aid in whatever form it is needed. The Blanchard family need only ask, and our community will see to it that no call for help goes unanswered.

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