When Raymond Davies was killed in Denver by a hit-and-run driver on August 17, no television station shared news of his passing. No newspaper detailed the crime. No radio station shared a description of the vehicle that drove away as he lay dying. Beyond a mention in a Streetsblog Denver article about rising dangers for pedestrians and cyclists in the city, his death went unreported.
Why? Some people may have considered Raymond, 26, to have been homeless at the time he was struck, although Mary Lou Davies, his mother, says he was merely traveling and she believes he had a hotel room at the time. But he was also the victim of a crime for which no one has yet been punished, despite a considerable amount of evidence.
These unanswered questions continue to dominate the thoughts of Mary Lou even as she makes preparations for his funeral, scheduled to take place in Pennsylvania on Saturday, September 15.
"I can't eat, I can't sleep," Mary Lou says. "But he can't live his life, and he was so good. It's horrible."
The facts of the case, as detailed by Mary Lou, are simple. Just after 10 p.m. on the 17th, Raymond stopped into the Walmart on the 2700 block of West Evans to buy a pack of American Spirit cigarettes, but he was fifty cents short, so he purchased some crackers instead.
"They cost $1.97," she notes. "I have the receipt."
Moments later, presumably as he was attempting to cross the street, Raymond was hit by a white panel van that just kept going. He was pronounced dead at 10:47 p.m.
Such incidents are becoming increasingly common in the metro area, as is made clear by the headline of the aforementioned Streetsblog Denver piece, published on August 20: "Drivers Killed 1 Person Walking and 1 Person Biking Last Week, Surpassing 2017’s Death Toll."
Writer David Sachs expands upon this point in his first paragraph: "With more than four months left in 2018, motorists have ended the lives of fifteen people walking and biking. It’s already been a deadlier year for pedestrians and bicyclists than 2017, when drivers killed fourteen."
This last figure specifically pertains to pedestrians and cyclists, too. The total number of people who lost their lives in traffic-related accidents in Denver last year was 51 — meaning that more than 27 percent of those who died as a result of Mile High City crashes during 2017 weren't using motorized vehicles.
As for this year's carnage, here's the Streetsblog Denver graphic that accompanied the item that mentioned Raymond's death.
An updated Streetsblog Denver roundup, published on September 11, shows 387 crashes the previous week and a 2018 total to date of 16,635, but no pedestrian or cyclist fatalities — but one of each was seriously injured.
Still, Raymond was much more than a statistic. "My son was a wonderful, wonderful young man," Mary Lou stresses. "He was an environmentalist, a naturalist, a vegan — just the greatest guy somebody could meet."
One of four children born to Mary Lou and her husband, Michael, a successful businessman, Raymond seemed to have everything going for him. But at seventeen, his life changed forever because of one person's moment of jealousy.
"A girl kissed his cheek, and another boy got mad and pushed Raymond out a window," she recalls. "Afterward, he was in a coma. It was very sad. But he handled it very well."
The fall caused a brain injury that impacted everything Raymond did going forward. But Mary Lou says he remained "very humble and highly intelligent. And he was a very cautious person. He didn't drink, and even though he might have smoked marijuana every once in a while, he wasn't crazy with it. He loved mountain climbing, going on trips — and he loved Denver."
In the month or so before his death, Raymond spent a week and a half or so visiting his mother before returning to Denver — and the two of them made plans for her to come to Denver and find an apartment for him. But before that could happen, she recalls, "he was gone."
Mary Lou is currently trying to get video footage from the Walmart near where Raymond died, and she says that in addition to eyewitness accounts of what happened on the 17th, there's also a photo of the van. But Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson maintains that beyond revealing that the van was last seen traveling northbound on Federal Boulevard after the accident, "no other information can be released at this point, because it's still an active investigation."
The type of van involved is commonly used by a wide range of companies, and while Jackson can't confirm that the vehicle in question was owned by a local business, he says, "It might possibly have some front-end damage. So if anybody knows of a vehicle in their fleet or any other white panel van that didn't have damage on August 16th but did have damage on August 18th, we'd like to hear from you."
In Jackson's view, "The thing that's going to help us with this case is community assistance."
Such help is tough to come by when a crime doesn't generate any substantial publicity. That's one reason why a relative of Raymond's launched a GoFundMe page titled "Justice for Raymond."
The page's introduction states, "We are raising money for not only his funeral expenses, but also to donate to the Denver Police Department. Denver has the highest hit-and-run incidents in the country. We want justice not only for our beloved Raymond but for all other victims as well."
Echoing this point, Mary Lou says, "This isn't only about Raymond. I'm upset about all the other people killed in hit-and-runs when they're not able to find who did it."
If you have any information about the white cargo van or anything else related to the death of Raymond Davies, you're encouraged to contact Denver Crimestoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867).
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