Transportation

Denver Traffic Fatalities: 57 Deaths and Why Charges Were (and Weren't) Filed

The aftermath of a September 27 hit-and-run in which a person in a wheelchair was killed.
The aftermath of a September 27 hit-and-run in which a person in a wheelchair was killed. Fox31
On September 17, Westword published a map pinpointing the locations of 54 traffic fatalities in Denver for the year so far. The tragic collection of events underscored just how far the city is from the goal of Vision Zero, a program launched in 2017 as a five-year action plan tasked with "eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries by making our roadways safer for everyone."

Since then, three more people have died in Denver traffic episodes — the most recent a 47-year-old man in a wheelchair who was killed in a hit-and-run early on September 27.

No arrests have been made in the incident, and that's far from uncommon. Of the 57 traffic fatalities in Denver to date in 2021, only eighteen have resulted in criminal charges so far, according to data provided by the Denver Police Department; charges are listed as pending in five more cases in which the perpetrators have yet to be identified and/or taken into custody. No one was charged in the 34 other incidents, either because of factors specific to what happened or because prosecutors decided not to take the case.

Fifteen of the 57 incidents involved a person using a vehicle — a car, a bicycle, a motorcycle or, in one instance, an electric stand-up scooter — who died after striking what is characterized as a "fixed object." None of these resulted in charges because they were one-vehicle crashes in which the only individual involved did not survive.

Seven of the two-vehicle incidents didn't lead to charges because DPD investigators determined that no single individual was at fault, making what happened simply a terrible accident. But in eight instances, prosecutors declined to press charges after looking over the findings submitted by Denver police.

"There can be many reasons why we do not file a criminal case, such as not being able to meet our ethical obligation of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury," says Carolyn Tyler,  Denver District Attorney's Office spokesperson. "Unlike most other cases prosecutors with our office handle, often people involved in vehicle accidents did not intend to cause harm and must now live with the consequences of their actions every day for the rest of their lives."

Here's our updated map, which shows the 57 traffic fatalities listed by the Denver Police Department for 2021 through September 27. Click on each pin to see the date, address and details about the incident, including whether criminal charges have been filed (we're not naming the victims, to protect the privacy of their families). The same information is also listed below, in chronological order.
1. 01/01/21
1400 Blk N Elati St
Electric Stand-up Scooter/Fixed Object
Charges: None

2. 01/07/21
N Fox St & W 38th Ave
Auto/Rollover
Charges: None

3. 01/16/21
1300 Blk S Federal Blvd
Pedestrian/Auto
Hit and Run
Charges: Pending

4. 01/21/21
1600 Blk S Monaco St Pkwy
Auto/Fixed Object
Charges: None

5. 01/23/21
N Broadway & W Speer Blvd
Auto/Auto
Charges: Declined

6. 01/23/21
N Broadway & W Speer Blvd
Auto/Auto
Charges: Declined

7. 02/03/21
EB I-70 & Quebec St
Auto/Auto
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

8. 02/08/21
E Hampden Ave & S Akron St
Pedestrian/Auto
Charges: Declined

9. 02/12/21
W Evans Ave & S Zuni St
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

10. 02/15/21
NB I-25 & W 8th Ave
Auto/Rollover
Charges: None

11. 02/16/21
3200 Blk W 44th Ave
Auto/Auto
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

12. 03/05/21
Morrison Rd & W Kentucky Ave
Auto/Pedestrian
Charges: Hit & Run w/Death

13. 03/23/21
NB I-25 & NB I225
Auto
Charges: None

14. 04/01/21
1400 Blk N Race-Vine Alley
Pedestrian/Auto
Charges: Declined

15. 04/03/21
Lawrence St & 18th St
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

16. 04/10/21
W 32nd Ave & N Lowell Blvd
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

17. 04/11/21
2000 Blk N Speer Blvd
Auto/Fixed Object
Charges: None

18. 04/12/21
700 Blk N Corona-Downing Alley
Auto/Fixed Object
Charges: None

19. 04/07/21
Park Ave West & Wewatta St
Auto/Fixed Object
Charges: None

20. 04/24/21
4500 Blk W 26th Ave
Auto/Fixed Object
Charges: None

21. 05/07/21
WB I-70 & N Sheridan Blvd
Motorcycle/Fixed Object
Charges: None

22. 05/08/21
700 Blk S Lincoln St
Auto/Fixed Object
Charges: None

23. 05/17/21
N Central Park Blvd & E 35th Ave
Motorcycle/Auto
Charges: Declined

24. 05/22/21
5000 Blk N Federal Blvd
Pedestrian/Auto
Charges: None

25. 05/23/21
NB I-25 & 20th St
Motorcycle/Auto
Charges: None

26. 06/06/21
WB I-70 & N Brighton Blvd
Motorcycle/Auto
Charges: None

27. 06/07/21
NB I-25 & 20th St
Auto/Pedestrian
Hit and Run
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

28. 05/26/21
E Florida Ave & S Hudson St
Auto/Auto
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

29. 06/12/21
1700 Blk N Monaco St
Auto/Fixed Object
Charges: None

30. 06/12/21
1700 Blk N Monaco St
Auto/Fixed Object
Charges: None

31. 06/14/21
Park Ave West & Court Pl
Auto/Pedestrian
Hit and Run
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

32. 06/18/21
5000 Blk E Evans Ave
Auto/Pedestrian
Hit and Run
Charges: Pending

33. 06/21/21
W Florida Ave & S Osage St
Motorcycle/Auto
Charges: None

34. 06/24/21
7100 Blk E Evans Ave
Auto/Fixed Object
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

35. 06/29/21
N Quentin St & E 51st Ave
Auto/Motorcycle
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

36. 07/05/21
WB I-70 & Central Park Blvd
Auto/Rollover
Charges: None

37. 06/29/21
10100 Blk MLK Blvd
Auto/Auto
Charges: None

38. 07/22/21
W Evans Ave & S Acoma St
Bicycle/Fixed Object
Charges: None

39. 07/26/21
1000 Blk W 6th Ave
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

40. 07/29/21
2600 Blk S Sheridan Blvd
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

41. 07/29/21
2600 Blk S Sheridan Blvd
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

42. 07/30/21
2300 Blk N Syracuse St
Auto/Fixed Object
Charges: None

43. 08/08/21
2200 Blk E Buchtel Blvd
Auto/Motorcycle
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

44. 08/19/21
W 17th Ave & N Irving St
Auto/Auto
Charges: None

45. 08/24/21
100 Blk W Colfax Ave
Motorcycle/Fixed Object
Charges: None

46. 08/27/21
E 56th Ave & N Ireland St
Motorcycle/Auto
Charges: Declined

47. 08/27/21
11700 Blk E MLK Blvd
Motorcycle/Auto
Charges: None

48. 08/28/21
1800 Blk E Evans Ave
Auto/Low Power Scooter
Hit and Run
Charges: Pending

49. 08/30/21
1000 Blk S Raritan St
Auto/Pedestrian
Charges: Careless Driving w/Death

50. 06/22/21
E 40th Ave & N Colorado Blvd
Electric Stand-up Scooter/Auto
Charges: Declined

51. 09/02/21
E 6th Ave & N Downing St
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

52. 09/05/21
3900 Blk W 10th Ave
Bicycle/Fixed Object
Charges: None

53. 09/07/21
Arkins Ct & 29th St
Auto/Pedestrian
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

54. 09/08/21
1700 Blk E 46th Ave
Auto/Auto
Charges: Vehicular Homicide

55. 09/14/21
Court Pl & W Colfax Ave
Bicycle/Auto
Charges: Declined

56. 09/18/21
900 Blk N Broadway
Hit and Run
Auto/Pedestrian
Charges: Pending

57. 09/27/21
N Broadway & E 3rd Ave
Hit and Run
Auto/Pedestrian
Charges: Pending
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts