Johnny Hockaday: Vehicular homicide charge in DUI-Wax Trax crash that killed Roland Stith

Update: On October 18, Johnny Hockaday, 28, will be formally advised of the accusations against him -- and there are plenty of them. He's been charged with four felonies, including vehicular homicide, in relation to the alleged drunk-driving crash that slammed the vehicle driven by Roland Stith into Wax Trax, one of Denver's landmark stores.

According to the statement of probable cause, Hockaday was driving near Wax Trax's 13th and Washington location at about 11:22 p.m. when he blew through a red light. At that moment, Stith, 64, was traveling through the intersection in a P.T. Cruiser. Hockaday's vehicle broadsided the car, causing it to flip and smash into Wax Trax, damaging the facade of its front entrance.

Stith had to be extracted from the Cruiser by emergency personnel, but their efforts were for naught. He died from injuries sustained in the accident.

Hockaday, however, was in good shape -- good enough to attempt to flee the scene on foot. But he didn't get far. Witnesses pointed him out to responding officers, and he was soon brought into custody.

A blood test was subsequently conducted to determine that he was intoxicated. But arresting officers didn't have any doubt. Among the indications of drunkenness listed were slurred speech, a strong scent of alcohol on his breath, balance described as swaying, staggering and stumbling, eyes that were both bloodshot and watery, and a general sense of disorientation.

That was more than enough for the Denver District Attorney's Office, which has charged Hockaday with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault-DUI, vehicular eluding with death and vehicular eluding with bodily injury. Hockday's bond was set at $100,000.

Look below to see the probable cause statement, followed by our previous coverage, including a larger look at Hockaday's booking photo and shots of the damage done to Wax Trax.

Johnny Hockaday Probable Cause Statement

Update, 1:32 p.m. October 11: The Denver Police Department has now released the name and the mug shot of the man accused of being behind the wheel in a fatal hit-and-run that took the life of Roland Stith, whose vehicle crashed into Wax Trax Records.

The accused perpetrator: Johnny Hockaday, 28.

According to the DPD, Hockaday is being held for investigation of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, and more. The information gathered by the Denver cops will then be offered by the Denver District Attorney's Office, which will determine formal charges.

Look below to see a larger version of Hockaday's booking photo, followed by our original coverage, complete with photos of the damage at Wax Trax.

Original item, with updated name, 11:45 a.m. October 11, by author Nick Lucchesi: A man is in police custody today after hit-and-run death involving two cars, one of which rolled into Wax Trax Records. The victim: Roland Stith, 64, of Denver.

Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson laid out the scenario from last night.

About 11:30 p.m. Monday, Jackson notes, the suspect's Audi ran a red light while traveling westbound on 13th Avenue, striking Stith's southbound white Chrysler P.T. Cruiser. The P.T. Cruiser rolled onto its hood and into the front of Wax Trax at the corner of 13th and Washington. (The Denver Post published a photo today of the scene immediately after the incident.)

The suspect's car continued down 13th Avenue for an unspecified distance and eventually hit a parked car. The suspect got out of the car and fled on foot. Witnesses in the area identified the suspect to officers and he was arrested soon after.

Stith had to be extracted from his car by Denver Firefighters, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner has scheduled an autopsy for today to determine the cause of death.

The suspect in the hit-and-run is being held under investigation of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence of alcohol and other traffic charges. Jackson says formal charges are pending and will be presented to the District Attorney's office this week. A passenger in the suspect's car was injured during the incident and was treated at a hospital, but the injuries are not considered life-threatening.

Here was the scene at Wax Trax, 638 East 13th Avenue, this morning:

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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.
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