Latoya Nelson busted in hit-and-run that killed Charlie Herrera, 85, at 13th and Kalamath
Update: At a news conference moments ago, a Denver Police Department spokesman identified the woman arrested in a fatal hit-and-run that took place yesterday afternoon in the vicinity of 13th and Kalamath as Latoya Nelson, thirty.
The victim in the case has also been ID'd. He was Charlie Herrera, 85, and he was alone in the vehicle at the time he was allegedly struck by Nelson. The police emphasize that he was not disobeying any traffic laws prior to the collision that took his life.
According to the DPD, Nelson was arrested during what's described as a routine traffic stop last night around 11 p.m. in the vicinity of 31st and California. She was in a vehicle that was not registered in her name, and she wasn't alone. However, the cops are not saying at this point if she was driving or a passenger, and neither are they sharing any other details.
A Denver police sergeant conducted the news conference about the arrest of Latoya Nelson.
It appears the car Nelson is said to have been driving at the time of yesterday's crash wasn't hers, either. But again, the cops are keeping specifics about the actual owner and his or her connection to Nelson quiet at this point, citing the ongoing investigation.
The sergeant who conducted the news conference that ended moments ago spent nearly as much time talking about the ongoing search for a white or silver SUV in another hit and run -- a Friday crash at 14th and Yosemite that killed two children, Za May Khan, eight, and Az Zet Khan, five -- as the current case. He stresses that tips are still coming in about that incident, but notes that the enormous number of vehicles fitting the general description of the SUV in the metro area has made running down every tip a challenge.
As for why Nelson fled from the scene on foot (her vehicle was disabled in the crash), the sergeant was mum. But in general, he suggested that hit-and-run drivers may split because they're impaired by alcohol or drugs, they are wanted by police for other offenses, or a variety of other reasons. By hitting the road, though, they're now committing a felony; in the last year, the Colorado legislature bumped up the penalty for leaving the scene of a fatal or serious accident from its previous misdemeanor status.
Here's a larger look at Nelson's mug shot -- as you can see, she's wearing a neck brace -- as well as a 9News video about the 14th and Yosemite hit-and-run, followed by our previous coverage.
Original post, 5:48 p.m. March 28: Yesterday, after a bizarre series of events that appear to have started with a fight at a Colfax Avenue Burger King, a woman slammed into a car near 13th and Kalamath, then fled the scene on foot, covered in blood. The driver of the vehicle she struck, described as an elderly man, died as a result of his injuries.
The woman was not caught immediately. But moments ago, the Denver Police Department revealed that an arrest has been made in the case. Photos, video and more below.
Here's the first DPD tweet about the incident:
TRAFFIC: 13th Ave. closed at Santa Fe and Kalamath St. Is closed at 14th due to accident investigation. Expect detours in the area.
— Denver Police Dept (@DenverPolice) March 27, 2013
The cops subsequently released photos of the suspect vehicle, including this one:
What happened? According to 9News, a woman appears to have gotten into an argument at the Burger King near the intersection of Colfax and Kalamath. She then backed into a car in the parking lot, and when a security guard tried to stop her, she zoomed off, nearly running him over in the process.
She made it only a couple of blocks. At the intersection of 13th and Kalamath, she crushed a small car.
The victim's vehicle.
Afterward, a witness pulled her from her vehicle; he describes her as an African-American woman in her twenties wearing black pants and sporting both a gold tooth and a spattering of blood.
A look at the crime scene from the air.
Nonetheless, the woman was in good enough shape that while the man tended to the victim in the other car, she split, disappearing before police arrived.
The thus-far-unidentified man subsequently died at Denver Health.
Of course, by leaving her car behind -- and she didn't have much of a choice -- the suspect gave police an easy way to identify her. And moments ago, the DPD tweeted the following:
UPDATE: DPD has arrested the female suspect involved in the Hit&Runaccident at 13th & Kalamath St. More detail to come after 8AM
— Denver Police Dept (@DenverPolice) March 28, 2013
Look for updates to this post when we receive more information. In the meantime, here's the 9News report, followed by an interactive graphic of the Burger King where the situation got underway. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
View Larger Map
More from our News archive: "Video: Erin Jackson, busted in East High hit-and-run, is a teacher and slam poet."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.