The following are letters, presented in their original formats, from myself and Denise, with the exception of the last letter from Angelika.
I usually had trouble telling the twins apart. I first met them in 1990 when they were doing their second Badwater/Whitney run. The next year, in 1991, I had the honor of being in the same race with them. Since then we have had many encounters in various events and training camps. “Attached” are digital images taken of prints from the 1991 race. I think the last time I saw them was in 1999 during the last Hi-Tec Badwater 146, the year of “Running on the Sun.” I lost contact with them the last few years as their email and land-mail addresses didn’t seem to work.
The sad news of Barbara’s bike accident during the Santa Barbara Triathlon is/was hard to take. Denise and I extend our prayers to all of the survivors.
Ben and Denise
Dear Twin Team Family and Friends and Any Athlete,
Yesterday I surprisingly got an email from Angelika Drake (formerly Castaneda) after I connected with her about her twin sister Barbara Warren’s bike accident last Saturday. During the 34-mile bike stage of the Santa Barbara triathlon, she had an unwitnessed crash. Barbara was instantly quadriplegic at the C-2 level (same as Christopher Reeve a decade-and-a-half ago). She lived on life support for another three days. When she was able to respond by blinking her eyes, she was questioned by the family about her wishes as you will see below. I have just gotten permission from Angelika to share the letter I received yesterday.
[Yes, please share the letter, it is so hard for me talk to anyone. We got so much support from you both in the training for the Badwater and the race and again thanks for your support now. God Bless. Thanks . Love , Angelika].
In all of my years in life and in medicine, I have never experienced anything so courageous and sad. I have seen just about everything that can happen to a human body and to families and friends and almost every emotion as well. I once did an emergency tracheotomy in a nursing home on my father and kept him alive another three years and that was 35 years ago. But this is not about me. If you have courage, go ahead and read what Angelika sent me, which is immediately below. It has not been edited. Then below that is the notice I sent out previously along with some images from the Hi-Tec Badwater 146 Race in 1991. They are not “attached” in this email. Please forward this to your friends as it is very inspirational.
Ben and Denise Ben Jones
Dear Ben and Denise,
You might have lost us for a few years but you both were always in our hearts.
Barbara had a bike accident in the Santa Barbara triathlon last weekend, she broke her neck. It is hard for me right now to write about it, I am full of pain and tears. As you know she was halve of my soul, God blessed us so much with each other.
She was in a downhill on a very rough road and we she fell, maybe she was reaching for her bottle or food, we don’t know. She broke her neck and was paralyzed from the chin down. We waited 3 days, maybe the spine would come out of the chock but the doctors told us she would have to live the rest of her live only moving her eyes and nodding slightly, she would never be able to talk either. She was on life support with tubes for everything. My hart was so broken when I saw her in so much pain and I prayed to God to take her gently into heaven.
I was over her face when I was prompted to asked her if she would like to fall asleep- she nodded yes, her eyes were wide open in despair. I asked her if she would like to go in a month, she nodded no, in a week, she nodded no, in 2 days –no, right now and she nodded yes with blinking her eyes.
I called her 2 daughter, her husband Tom and my husband Preston in and after the doctors confirmed her desire and the procedure was started. I told her I would go to sleep with her laying on her side and that I did, embracing her, keeping my hand on her hart until it faded and all monitors of the machines went black. Katrin and Ingrid, her daughters were holding her head when we said our last word of love to her. We were so blessed to have been with her to the very last breath.
I just arrived home from my most tragic weekend in my life, I have lost the other part of myself, I hope God gives me the strength soon to continuo. (We don’t know the mysteries of God) With much love I say good by to my old Angelika and will start as a new person on my own. I pray for God to help me to find my own meaning in life.
Love you, thank you for thoughts and prayers.
Photo Imagination Art
Imagination becomes reality!