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Is There a Hit and Run Epidemic in Denver

As another family is grieving the loss of their little boy after a tragic, senseless hit and run crash earlier this week, it seems timely that, the Medina Alert System, Colorado House Bill 1191 passed unanimously through the Colorado House Judiciary Committee and now moves on to the House and Senate.

With two more hit-and-run collisions with serious injuries this week, we are truly hitting epidemic numbers. In 2013, Denver Police investigated over 3,800 hit and run crashes that resulted in 33 cases of serious injuries and 5 deaths.

In 2012, HB 1084, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton made leaving the scene of a hit and run collision resulting in serious bodily injury Class 4 felony. Previously, the law provided a loophole for drivers who may have been intoxicated when they left the scene, only to turn themselves in after they sobered up, knowing they would receive a lesser penalty.

The Medina Alert, originally created in 2012 by Larry Stevenson, a former Denver police officer, is named after 21-year-old Jose Medina who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while working as a valet at a local nightclub at 9th and Lincoln in downtown Denver. Currently, only operating in the Denver area, 911 operators and Crime Stoppers issue alerts to bus drivers, taxi drivers, and truckers, along with press releases to local media and other means. The goal of HB 1191, sponsored by Conti and Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, is to expand the system statewide by mandating the Department of Public Safety issue media alerts and bulletins on electronic highway signs similar to Amber Alerts, that would post suspect information that would alert the public to those who have killed or caused serious bodily injury in a hit and run collision.

“Hit-and-run accidents are one of the most unsolvable crimes,” Stevenson said. “You are looking for a ghost. Rarely do victims have good information of what hit them. We had to find a way to connect the dots around the metro area. We can’t always expect law enforcement to fly in with the red cape and solve the crimes. We have to do our part.”

At least for Medina’s family, a taxi driver witnessed the incident and reported the license plate number to authorities and the driver was eventually arrested and convicted. Many hit and run crashes go unsolved, offering the families of hit and run victims no answers and no chance of justice for their loved ones.

If your family has been the victim of a hit-and-run driver or wrongful death, contact the compassionate attorneys at the Bendinelli Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation.