Remembering People Who’ve Lost Their Lives Walking Denver Streets in 2017

In 2017, drivers have taken the lives of Gilberto Granillo Chavez left, Michael Hoglund, center, and Christian McDonald.
In 2017, drivers have taken the lives of Gilberto Granillo Chavez left, Michael Hoglund, center, and Christian McDonald.

As a society we tend to treat pedestrian fatalities as an inevitable cost of our transportation system. But traffic deaths are, in fact, preventable. We do not have to resign ourselves to the loss of moms, dads, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters.

Drivers have killed three people walking on Denver streets this year, including two people on deadly Federal Boulevard. If Denver streets were designed to prioritize the safe movement of people on foot, instead of car traffic, they might still be with us. This is who they were.

Christian McDonald, 38

McDonald was crossing Blake Street at the 16th Street Mall just after the bars let out early Sunday morning on January 15, six days before his 39th birthday. A driver in a black BMW struck McDonald, sending him flying into a pole on the sidewalk, according to a police report. He died about an hour later.

The driver fled. The case remains unsolved.

McDonald did not have a home and was mentally ill, his mother, Diane Marie Scholtes, told CBS4. He’d been living on area streets on and off.

“They didn’t care less,” she said of the driver. “No conscience. You killed my son.”

“If I had a phone that connected to Heaven, I would call you every day to tell you that I love and miss you,” a friend wrote on his obituary page. “May JUSTICE be served.”

Gilberto Granillo Chavez, 75

On the morning of February 1, Chavez began crossing six lanes of Federal Boulevard at Louisiana Avenue. Chavez was almost to the other side when Damian Garcia, in a Ford F250, “at a stated speed of 40-45 mph braked hard and then struck” Chavez, the police report states. Chavez died the next day.

The speed limit on this section of Federal is 40 mph. Garcia was not charged in Chavez’s death, according to Denver PD records.

An uncle and brother, Chavez emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, his obituary states.

Michael Hoglund, 28

Hoglund was crossing Federal Boulevard at Howard Place — an intersection built for speed, not pedestrian safety. He was in a painted crosswalk when Ruben Paseiro-Lopez rammed him with a Nissan Altima, according to a police reports.

It was January 26, a Thursday, at about 6:40 in the morning. Paseiro-Lopez hit Hoglund at such a high speed that Hoglund was thrown across the intersection. Denver PD charged Paseiro-Lopez with careless driving resulting in death.

Hoglund was a construction worker who used to spend his high school summers caring for disabled kids and adults. He left behind parents, a brother, two sisters, and grandparents among other friends and family. From his obituary:

He loved sports, fishing, concerts and having a good time. His sense of humor and laugh was contagious and he had a unique love for everyone. Michael had a smile that would light up a room. Like many young men, he had his ups and downs. Michael had set his goals high and made significant progress toward those goals. His family was very proud of him.

“He cared so deeply for others and worked so hard to get to where he was before tragedy ripped him away from this world,” his sister wrote. “This world will have a void eternally with the loss of my brother.”

This article was updated to include new information about Chavez’s case.

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