Blue Pan Pizza and the Denver Police Department are asking for the public's help in finding the driver of a white Chevy Trailblazer who hit and killed Nick Cordova, a beloved Blue Pan employee, while he was riding home from work on his moped.
“He was a great, great guy," says Blue Pan co-owner Giles Flanigan. "Everybody's really struggling at the moment, but we're doing the best we can. Everybody just kind of went into, 'How can we help?' One of those ways is trying to get the information out there so if the public sees anything, they're as educated as they can be.”
According to a DPD crime alert sent out Monday, the hit-and-run occurred on November 18 just after midnight at the intersection of Grove Street and Speer Boulevard. “The driver fled the scene of this crash without stopping, rendering aid, or leaving information required by law,” the crime alert says. “The vehicle was last seen traveling southbound through the North Grove/Hooker Street Alley towards West 29th Avenue. The Trail Blazer will have front end damage and is missing the front bumper.”
According to the Colorado State Patrol, hit-and-run investigations in the state were up by over 20 percent during the first three months of 2023 compared to 2022. Blue Pan made an Instagram post on November 28 sharing the DPD alert and asking for help finding the driver who hit Cordova. Co-workers also made fliers to distribute in the area, instructing people to call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers with any information.
“We are going to miss talking to Nick while sitting at the bar eating pizza," said Ryan Taylor, aka @rtgibsonou, in an Instagram reply to Blue Pan's post. "Praying they find the person that did this."
Cordova’s co-workers describe the shift leader, who’d been with the company for over five years, as a kind and gentle soul. “He would volunteer his time at the animal shelter and play with the dogs,” Flanigan says. “He was just a genuine, loving person in his energy and his actions.”
Cordova was one of the last people Flanigan personally interviewed before hiring was swapped to the purview of general managers at the Detroit-style pizza outpost’s West Highland location, at 3934 32nd Avenue — a reflection of Cordova’s tenure at the company, which now has two locations in Denver and plans to expand to Golden soon.
Cordova was part of what makes Blue Pan so special, Flanigan says.
“In restaurants, culture and atmosphere are beyond important, and he really contributed at a high level at both,” he tells Westword. “Who he was made the atmosphere better and the service better and resulted in customers being happier. All those little things, they all add up. Culturally, he set a great example for the team. He had a heavy influence on Blue Pan’s culture and shaping it.”
Though it has been an incredibly difficult few days, Flanigan says well wishes from the community have been a bright spot. “The outpouring of love and concern and support has been jaw-dropping — literally jaw-dropping,” Flanigan declares.
He and the rest of the Blue Pan family believe that if they keep talking about Cordova, someone will eventually turn up with information that will lead to the arrest of the person who killed him. Flanigan hopes that city traffic cameras in the area might turn something up, too.
The Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure confirms its traffic cameras do not record, so they wouldn’t be of help to an investigation. The DPD did not reply to a question about its use of department traffic cameras in cases such as this one.
“Maybe we're overly optimistic,” Flanigan says. “Maybe not. But we just have to believe in today's world — with all the videos and dash cams and ring cams and government cameras — that's there's got to be something in the vicinity that has some information. That's our goal. If somebody does have information, please give it to the police to the extent you can.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867. Tipsters can remain anonymous and could earn a reward of up to $2,000.
Celebrate the life of Nick Cordova from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, January 9, at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street.