The Eighth Pedestrian Killed By a Driver on Denver Streets This Year Was Nathan Heggenberger

The area where a driver killed Nathan Heggenberger. Photo: David Sachs
The area where a driver killed Nathan Heggenberger. Photo: David Sachs

The person killed by a driver while crossing Albrook Drive in Montbello on July 15 was Nathan Heggenberger, 41, according to the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner.

Although it’s been 11 days since the crash, we still know very little about what occurred that evening, about 7:30 p.m., in the 12300 block of Albrook Drive. Denver PD would not say whether the driver was speeding or distracted, because the investigation is ongoing. While police say they can’t speak to the driver’s actions, they they noted that Heggenberger was crossing mid-block.

Here’s what Denver PD spokesperson Doug Schepman told Streetsblog in an email:

The investigation remains open, but it appears the pedestrian (adult male) was crossing Albrook Drove [sic] mid-block when he was struck by the vehicle, which was westbound. Investigators are looking into whether or not speed was also a factor. Once that assessment is finished, the case will be presented to the DA’s Office for consideration of possible charges and the report will be available.

Public information is (as usual) skimp, but here’s what we do know: The speed limit on Albrook is 25 mph, a rate of impact that a person hit by a motorist survives 88 percent of the time. The sun was still up during the crash. This stretch of Albrook Drive, east of Peoria Street and west of Tulsa Court, has four lanes for cars designed to facilitate driving, and three bus stops that serve the 44 and the 42. A bunch of low-rise apartments line the street, which has also has a health center nearby.

In other words, this is a neighborhood where motorists should expect people to be walking. Heggenberger did not deserve to die for crossing a 25 mph street. That’s a core tenet of Mayor Michael Hancock’s commitment to end traffic deaths and serious injuries — that humans are unpredictable, but we can create a forgiving transportation system that protects people from fallibility, instead of one that kills them.

Heggenberger’s death marks the eighth time a driver killed a person walking in Denver this year, including 11-year-old Damian Solis, who was killed crossing the street from unincorporated Arapahoe County into Denver.

  • MT

    We have built all kinds of things into road design to forgive drivers mistakes, but not a single thing to forgive a mistake by a pedestrian or cyclist.

    Crossing the street shouldn’t be treated as a mistake anyway.

    • That is why we have crosswalks. You want the whole street to be a crosswalk? How hard is it to look both ways before you cross the street and not walk right out in front of moving traffic. Even the reaction time in a self-driving car would only be 4/10ths of a second quicker than human reaction time and then there is still the distance required to brake or swerve if there isn’t another vehicle next to you. If you walk out within 25 feet of a self-driving car in a 25 mph zone it will nail you too.

      • MT

        Nice victim blaming.

      • MT

        How hard is it to be careful and not kill people with your damn car?

        Maybe the driver was a heartless asshole like you and doesn’t care if he kills anyone. Only speculation.

        • BHG

          For real. This dude will come up with reasons to fault the victim until the heat death of the universe before considering the actions of the vehicle operator.

  • TakeFive

    This one is pretty easy to guess. Time: 7:30 pm – Sunset: 8.19 pm. Direction of travel? Westbound on an east-west collector street but if you do a quick map-check you’ll notice the street at point of collision has a W/NW direction or smack dab into the trajectory of the descending sun. I checked bcuz I sorta recalled the road doing that closer to Peoria but wanted to double-check.That is just brutal; been there done that. While everyone’s peripheral vision-ability will vary, when you are driving directly into the setting sun your focus will tend to narrow as you’re just trying to see the damn road. Guy wearing dark-colored clothing? Dunno, but this is a very hazardous situation and bad time to walk in front of a car (assuming that is what happened).

  • “…..Damian Solis, who was killed crossing the street from unincorporated Arapahoe County into Denver”.

    Evans is not a residential street, it is a Federally-regulated primary freight artery under the FHWA FAST Act and MAP-21 law, and a CDOT heavy truck route. The speed limit is perfectly normal for the type of road. There was a crosswalk 250 feet away. What do you want, a stoplight every 250 feet? What you want is gridlock. How about we fault whoever thought building apartments on a six-lane primary heavy truck route was a good idea? Imagine the amount of diesel exhaust such residents have to breathe?

    https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/infrastructure/nfn/

    GIS Map

    https://hepgis.fhwa.dot.gov/fhwagis/#

    Was the guy killed crossing Albrook mid-block intoxicated? Did he make a sudden move off the sidewalk without looking? What is driver reaction time? At-least a half-second, plus braking distance. At 30 mph your speed is 44 feet per-second, so 25 mph is still 37 feet per-second.

    Including reaction time and braking distance even at 25 mph we are talking 50 feet to stop, maybe a little more if the vehicle is a larger older vehicle with drum brakes, and truck air brakes also have another half-second to full second for air brake application time. If the victim was well within that 50 feet there was no chance to avoid him. Was there a van, an SUV, or a small truck involved that might have blocked the driver’s view of the pedestrian, or the pedestrian’s view of the oncoming car? As said below the low-angle sun is likely a factor too.

  • After viewing Google Earth I have one more comment. There is no crosswalk between the large apartment complex on the north side of Albrook and the RTD park & ride bus stop on the south side, right where the old Safeway store used to be in the 1980s. The nearest crosswalk is 500 feet away. Back when Safeway was there I believe that there was a crosswalk there at that time. I used to shop at that Safeway on-occasion back in 1983 in-fact. Just a little bit of paint and a couple of yield to pedestrian signs might save a life next time, a pretty low-budget fix.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@39.7819565,-104.845089,141m/data=!3m1!1e3

    • TakeFive

      Solid observation

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