Injured horseback rider gains community support

Rosa, fellow Cool resident, has been through similar ordeal
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
-A +A

During Thea Rosa's last few hospital visits to see Crystal Costa, she has been trying to keep things positive, but above all, realistic.

That's because Rosa, 45, of Cool, has been through an eerily similar situation to the one Costa is living right now.

Two weeks ago, Costa, 50, also of Cool, broke her back when she was thrown from her horse while she was practicing for the upcoming Tevis Cup. The horse became agitated when a passing mountain bike rider, who was part of the ongoing Tahoe-Sierra 100, had his tire wash out in loose gravel as he maneuvered around Costa.

That rider, Jon Hyatt, stayed with Costa until help arrived. He and Rosa have visited Costa at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where she was initially taken for her broken back, nose and eye socket.

Costa is now in a rehabilitation center in San Francisco.

Rosa, who has known Costa for 10 years, was by her friend's side last week offering her advice from a perspective other friends and family members cannot offer.

Eight years ago, Rosa was in Costa's position after falling from her horse and immediately after having its full 1,200 pounds of weight fall on her.

Rosa broke her back and has been wheelchair-bound since then and while she has been supportive for Costa, she has made it clear that it's important to keep expectations open to any scenario.

"I just took her hand, because this is the worst thing to happen to her in her life, and told her ?I'll be here and I'll be honest with you, because covering it up and painting it pretty isn't going to help anyone,'" Rosa said.

It is still too early to tell what the outcome will be for Costa, though she could not feel her legs after the accident. In Rosa's case, doctors knew almost immediately that she would be paralyzed.

That became difficult for Rosa to face, as her initial reaction was to wonder if and when she could get back on her horse.

"I basically told her that she'll go through dark parts you never thought you could go through, but that's part of the mourning and healing," Rosa said. "She needs to know that in time she'll look back and say ?damn, I didn't know I was that strong.'"

Rosa and Hyatt have both been there for Costa while she was in Roseville and are planning to go see her in San Francisco together in the near future.

Costa's parents and 15-year-old son, Wyatt, have also constantly been by her side. Gail Costa, her mother, has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support she has seen. Rosa has tried to be a comforting, but realistic, presence for Costa's family, as well.

"If you need to sit there and cry and say that this is messed up and not fair then that shows we're all human and can lean on each other with those emotions," Rosa said.

One big aspect of Costa's life has not been uprooted since the accident, and that is her ranch. Nine horses and eight dogs, most of which Costa has rescued from her work as a veterinary technician, are being taken care of by Wyatt and her sister, Mary Nelson.

While Costa was in the hospital in Roseville, Nelson managed to bring two of her dogs in for a visit. Costa was wheeled down to the hospital lobby to see Spike, who has congestive heart failure, and Gia before she was transferred to the San Francisco rehabilitation center.

"She was just so happy to see them," Nelson said.

Since then, Daniel Schaffer, a friend of Costa's, has set up a fund to help pay for the modifications, care and upkeep for Costa's home and keep her life as undisrupted as possible when she can finally return home.

"I'm here right now looking at bringing tractors in to level ground so she can still go out and visit her horses and still have some of her life," Schaffer said. "I'd like to see everybody that's a horseman step up because what we want is for her to not lose contact with her beloved animals."

In the meantime, Rosa wants Costa to find her way through rehabilitation, which might be a long road for everyone.

"I want to be that positive influence and support for her and her family by keeping it real and keeping it honest," Rosa said.

To make a donation, checks can be made to the Crystal Costa Recovery Foundation and mailed to Community 1st Bank, 649 Lincoln Way, Auburn, Ca. 95603. Questions about making a donation can be directed to Jennifer Robie at Community 1st Bank at 530-863-4861 or

Contact Amber Marra at Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.