Twenty-three-year-old Andrew C’de Baca, a cook at a Denver pizzeria, was hit in early August of 2014 by a speeding motorcyclist who ran a red light. The cyclist struck the young man at the intersection of Blake and 19th as he was leaving work. The pedestrian remains hospitalized after the incident.
In Mid-August of 2014, a pedestrian was the victim of a hit and run on Northbound Federal. The driver, 20-year-old Amanda Suhr, was identified by police thanks to witness information. The victim suffered serious injuries, and Suhr has since been charged with numerous infractions, including leaving the scene of an accident.
The examples listed above are just two of the 174 cases of hit-and-run accidents involving pedestrians in the city so far in 2014, as reported by The Denver Post. The figure marks an increase of seven cases when compared to 2013 statistics covering the same period.
With auto/pedestrian hit-and-run cases in Denver and other cities on the rise, the state government has moved to make penalties for fleeing an accident more severe. In 2013, Colorado lawmakers passed House Bill 12-1084, which increases driver penalties for hit-and-run accident convictions involving the injury to, or death of, pedestrians. Under the new law, these types of accidents have fine and jail sentences matching those for drunk drivers in accidents with the same outcomes. As a Class 4 felony, a hit-and-run driver who harms or kills a pedestrian can face a two- to six-year jail sentence and a fine ranging from $2,000 to $500,000.
Denver has also instituted the Medina Alert program, which is designed to increase public involvement in solving hit and run cases. The Medina Alert is named after Jose Medina, a victim of a hit-and-run accident in 2011. Medina was struck and killed by an SUV while he was valet parking cars for a Denver nightclub. A witness provided authorities with information that helped identify the fleeing SUV driver.
Much like the nation’s Amber Alert for children who are kidnapped, anytime there is a hit-and-run accident in Denver where the driver flees the scene, a notification describing the vehicle goes out to law enforcement, taxi drivers, pedicab operators, truck drivers and news outlets. It also flashes on local message boards controlled by the state’s Department of Transportation. Those who view the message are asked to be on the lookout for the subject vehicle and report any sightings to law enforcement.
Unfortunately, hit and run accidents are a genuine concern across the county. Researchers on a decade-long study by the University of California at Berkeley concluded around one in five drivers who strike a pedestrian will flee the accident scene. While Denver is taking steps to curb the increase in hit-and-run accidents, pedestrians must always be careful when they’re walking near traffic. Be alert, even if you are using crosswalks and obeying traffic signals. Reports indicate that Andrew C’de Baca was in the crosswalk when he was struck by the careless act of another individual. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.