Transportation

Inside Denver Fatal Hit-and-Run Epidemic

Denver Police Department images of a Ford Explorer suspected of having been involved in the fatal hit-and-run that killed Steve Perkins on August 10.
Denver Police Department images of a Ford Explorer suspected of having been involved in the fatal hit-and-run that killed Steve Perkins on August 10. Metro Denver Crime Stoppers
It's only August, and there have already been as many fatal hit-and-runs in Denver this year as in all of 2021. One big reason why: The five traffic deaths over the last three weeks were all hit-and-runs.

According to data collected by the Denver Police Department, thirteen fatal hit-and-runs were included in the 2021 total of 84 traffic deaths — the highest annual number in at least a decade. Through August 7 of 2022, according to the DPD, out of 54 traffic deaths, a dozen were hit-and-runs.

Then, at approximately 6:59 a.m. on August 10, according to a Metro Denver Crime Stoppers bulletin, the thirteenth fatal hit and run and 55th death took place at the intersection of East 13th Avenue and Syracuse Street, when the driver of the Ford Explorer seen in the images at the top of this post struck an adult male bicyclist before fleeing the scene without rendering aid to the victim, who died as a result of his injuries. His family has identified him as Steve Perkins, a husband and father of two.

Annual traffic death totals for Denver weren't widely accessible until recent years. However, the DPD was able to provide Westword with the record number of traffic deaths for a single year — 100 in 1969 — as well as figures for each year since 2010, when the fatality count was 42, exactly half of the 2021 amount. Over the past decade-plus, traffic deaths have steadily increased despite the 2016 launch of Vision Zero, a five-year action plan with the mission of "eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries by making our roadways safer for everyone" as of 2030.

Continue to see the annual traffic-fatality counts in Denver from 2010 to 2021:
2010: 42
2011: 41
2012: 40
2013: 47
2014: 49
2015: 57
2016: 61
2017: 51
2018: 64
2019: 71
2020: 57
2021: 84
Last year, 43 traffic deaths had taken place by August 10 — twelve fewer than the 55 deaths in 2022 through the same date. Moreover, the pace of fatalities has quickened since Westword's last update, which counted 39 traffic fatalities through June 18. The sixteen additional traffic deaths in just under two months include seven hit-and-runs.

The most recent was the August 10 hit-and-run. The Ford Explorer driven by the suspect is believed to have damage to the driver-side front fender and driver-side rearview mirror; those with information about the incident can contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867). A reward of up to $2,000 is being offered.

Here are the 55 fatal traffic accidents from January 1 through August 10, 2022, in chronological order, with the name of the victim; the location of the incident; whether criminal charges were pressed, are pending or were declined by prosecutors; the type of vehicle involved; and the incidents identified as hit-and-runs.

1. January 11, 2022
Victim: Paul Hobrecht
5200 block of Peña Boulevard
Auto/Rollover
Criminal charges: None

2, January 14, 2022
Victim: Patricia Young
East Alameda Avenue/South Dayton Street
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: Careless driving with death

3. January 21, 2022
Victim: Matthew Goodman
1800 block of South Federal Boulevard
Pedestrian/Auto
Criminal charges: Declined

4. February 6, 2022
Victim: Joaquin Romero
600 block of South Eliot Street
Auto/Pedestrian
Hit and Run
Criminal charges: Pending

5. February 6, 2022
Victim: Steven Aguilar
Northbound I-25/Colfax Avenue
Auto/Rollover
Criminal charges: None

6. February 9, 2022
Victim: Jeffrey Jones
3700 Park Avenue West
Pedestrian/Train
Criminal charges: None

7. February 12, 2022
Victim: Oscar Chiccon
North Williams Street/East 31st Avenue
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: Careless driving with death

8. February 25, 2022
Victim: Mary Vaccaro
North Tower Road/East 69th Avenue
Auto/Pedestrian
Criminal charges: Declined

9. February 26, 2022
Victim: Kevin Maczo-Hernandez
1200 block of South Santa Fe Drive
Auto/Rollover
Criminal charges: None

10. March 2, 2022
Victim: Jaime Gonzalez-Valdez
Leetsdale Drive/South Monaco Parkway
Motorcycle/Auto
Criminal charges: Declined

11. March 3, 2022
Victim: April Mata
Southbound I-25/West Eighth Avenue
Auto/Rollover
Criminal charges: Careless driving with death

12, March 12, 2022
Victim: Joshua Jones
Northbound I-25/West Alameda Avenue
Pedestrian/Auto
Hit and Run
Criminal charges: Felony hit and run

13. March 23, 2022
Victim: Michael Lewis
Southbound I-25/West 13th Avenue
Pedestrian/Auto
Criminal charges: Declined

14. March 24, 2022
Victim: Daniel Rubio
West 5th Avenue/North Kalamath Street
Auto/Rollover
Criminal charges: Careless driving with death

15. March 28, 2022
Victim: Dennis Neely
West Alameda Avenue/South Sheridan Boulevard
Auto/Rollover
Criminal charges: Careless driving with death

16. April 1, 2022
Victim: Rodolfo Rivera
East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/Colorado Boulevard
Auto/Auto
Hit and Run
Criminal charges: Vehicular homicide

17. April 1, 2022
Victim: Anthony Yagovane
Speer Boulevard/North Broadway Street
Auto/Pedestrian
Criminal charges: Declined

18. March 31, 2022
Victim: Carla Andre
East Mississippi Avenue/South Geneva Street
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: None

19. April 8, 2022
Victim: Dale Bluecoat
East Colfax Avenue/North Race Street
Pedestrian/Auto
Criminal charges: Declined

20. April 8, 2022
Victim: Gustavo Cordero
California Street/22nd Street
Motorcycle/Auto
Criminal charges: Declined

21. April 9, 2022
Victim: Victor Cruz-Perez
South Sheridan Boulevard/West Alameda Avenue
Scooter/Auto
Criminal charges: Declined

22. April 11, 2022
Victim: Eugene Guzman
13600 block of East 56th Avenue
Auto/Fixed object
Criminal charges: None

23. April 12, 2022
Victim: Benjamin Murphy
West 38th Avenue/North Quivas Street
Auto/Motorcycle
Criminal charges: Careless driving with death

24. April 17, 2022
Victim: Victor Hallcy
North Syracuse Street/East 14th Avenue
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: Careless driving with death

25. May 4, 2022
Victim: Maximilian Ryan
South Jason Street/South Platte River Drive
Auto/Rollover
Criminal charges: None

26. May 5, 2022
Victim: Jose Medrano
South Federal Boulevard/West Yale Avenue
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: Vehicular homicide

27. May 6, 2022
Victim: Edgar Johnson
13600 Block of East 56th Avenue
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: Vehicular homicide

28. May 7, 2022
Victim: Juliana Anderson
North Newton Street/West 38th Avenue
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: None

29. May 11, 2022
Victim: Steven Peters
North Colorado Boulevard/East 48th Avenue
Pedestrian/Auto
Criminal charges: Declined

30. May 13, 2022
Victim: Kevin Maez
Westbound Interstate 70/Central Park Boulevard
Auto/Motorcycle
Criminal charges: Pending

31. May 17, 2022
Victim: Christopher Apodaca
4300 block of East Colfax Avenue
Pedestrian/Auto
Hit and Run
Criminal charges: Felony hit-and-run

32. May 21, 2022
Victim: Paul Hoard
East 13th Avenue/North Broadway
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: None

33. May 22, 2022
Victim: Elmil Parada-Funez
North Chambers Road/East 40th Avenue
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: None

34. May 24, 2022
Victim: Lynn Willcockson
East Harvard Avenue/South Quebec Street
Auto/Auto
Hit and run
Criminal charges: Vehicular homicide

35. May 30, 2022
Victim: Muslima Warsame
East 46th Avenue/North Brighton Boulevard
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: Vehicular homicide

36. May 30, 2022
Victim: Samantha Whatley
Northbound Interstate 225/Westbound Interstate 70 flyover ramp
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: None

37. May 30, 2022
Victim: Juvenile (name not provided)
Northbound Interstate 225/Westbound Interstate 70 flyover ramp
Auto./Auto
Criminal charges: None

38. June 2, 2022
Victim: Alfred McClendon
Peña Boulevard outbound/E-470
Auto/Rollover
Criminal charges: None

39. June 5, 2022
Victim: Manuel Ruiz
6400 block of Peñna Boulevard outbound
Auto/Rollover
Criminal charges: None

40. June 18, 2022
Victim: Jason Fujiwara
1500 block of North Colorado Boulevard
Pedestrian/Auto
Hit-and-Run
Criminal charges: Pending

41. June 25, 2022
Victim: Javin Odegard
North Fox Street/West 6th Avenue
Bicycle/Auto
Criminal charges: Pending

42. June 26, 2022
Victim: Michael Thompson
4100 block of West 43rd Avenue
Auto/Fixed Object
Criminal charges: None

43. June 28, 2022
Victim: Celso Rojas
4900 block of North Quebec Street
Motorcycle/Auto
Criminal charges: Declined

44. July 2, 2022
Victim: Terrell Jones
Broadway/West Irvington Place
Auto/Pedestrian
Criminal charges: Vehicular Homicide

45. July 3, 2022
Victim: Gregory Robinson
3500 block of North Quebec Street
Auto/Pedestrian
Criminal charges: Careless driving with death

46. July 5, 2022
Victim: Justin Conway
2100 block of East Colfax Avenue
Pedestrian/Auto
Hit-and-Run
Criminal charges: Pending

47. July 11, 2022
Victim: Thomas Vangel
7300 block of East Colfax Avenue
Auto/Pedestrian
Hit-and-Run
Criminal charges: Pending

48. July 19, 2022
Victim: Felix Sagna
Eastbound 6th Avenue/Northbound I-25 flyover ramp
Auto/Rollover
Criminal charges: None

49. July 23, 2022
Victim: Matthew Melchi
600 block of South Santa Fe Drive
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: Vehicular homicide

50. July 23, 2022
Victim: Brittany Caplan
600 block of South Santa Fe Drive
Auto/Auto
Criminal charges: Vehicular homicide

51. July 23, 2022
Victim: Juana Murillo-Gutierrez
000 block of North Sheridan Boulevard
Auto/Pedestrian
Hit-and-Run
Criminal charges: Pending

52. July 30, 2022
Victim: Jake Johnson
East 40th Avenue/Peña Boulevard
Auto/Auto
Hit-and-Run
Criminal charges: Vehicular homicide

53. August 3, 2022
Victim: Lorenzo Garibaldo
Northbound I-25/South University Boulevard
Auto/Pedestrian
Hit-and-Run
Criminal charges: Driving under the influence

54. August 7, 2022
Victim: Unidentified female
West 6th Avenue Freeway/North Federal Boulevard
Auto/Auto/Pedestrian
Hit-and-Run
Criminal charges: Pending

55. August 10, 2022
Victim: Steve Perkins
East 13th Avenue and North Syracuse Street
Auto/Bicycle
Hit-and-Run
Criminal 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