Dan Peterson, R.I.P.: Remembering hit-and-run victim who elevated bike-safety concerns

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"So many of his friends were there and we had never really met any of them," Peterson recalls. "They were just such rocks for us.... They were there through the end."

Dan Peterson, thirty, died on July 22 after he was hit while riding his bike at the intersection of Lincoln and Speer in the early hours of Sunday morning. It's a collision that prompted a group of anonymous cyclists to chain a white "Ghost Bike" memorial there in honor of a fallen cyclist they didn't even know. His death also elevated concerns of city officials, who were already in the process of discussing bike safety and the rise of cycling in Denver -- the topic of this week's feature, "On a Roll."

Here, we take a closer look at the life of Peterson, a well-liked, athletic transplant from Wisconsin who was killed in a crash that remains unsolved. As we note in our feature, there don't seem to be any promising leads from the Denver Police Department, and months later, his family and friends aren't holding their breath for a resolution.

And arresting the suspects -- who allegedly hit Peterson and then drove off with his mangled bike -- won't bring their loved one back.

"Accidents happen. That's why they are tragic accidents," says Sandi. "But to leave him there, that was hard to think about.... I don't know where their mind was. I have no idea who they are or if they regret it.... But if they would've just stopped, it would've just helped a lot."

When Sandi arrived at the intensive-care unit of Denver Health, where Dan was taken after the accident, she found around twenty of his friends and family members there to say their goodbyes. And the following day, his friends organized an impromptu memorial at Cheesman Park that drew out more than fifty people to talk about Dan.

"Dan had told me, 'Don't worry Mom...there's so many awesome people here that I feel like I have a second home here, a family away from home,'" she recalls. "I could see that."

At the hospital, she adds, "I told them, 'It's kind of you to be here,' and they all said, 'Dan would have been here with us until the end. He would've been the first one here and the last one to leave. That's just the kind of person he was.'"

And that's how many will remember him, says Sarah Goff, another close friend.

"He always put everyone before himself.... I think that's how everyone thinks of him," she says. "Really just a warm, genuine person."

She adds, "He was so young, but he did a lot in his short time, which was so amazing."

Continue for more reflections and photos of Dan Peterson.

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Sam Levin
Contact: Sam Levin