Remembering the People Killed While Walking and Biking on Denver Streets in 2017
Last year, 51 people lost their lives in traffic crashes, including 14 people walking and one person biking.
Citywide traffic fatalities fell in 2017, from 61 lives lost the year before to 51, according to the Denver Police Department. That’s 51 too many, but it’s an improvement Denver should build on.
Of the victims, 14 were killed while walking and one was killed while biking. To prevent these senseless deaths, it’s clear as day where to start: Half of the pedestrian victims were killed on Federal Boulevard, a dangerous state road controlled by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Federal is a major transit street that runs through neighborhoods full of homes and businesses — and year after year, the terrible conditions for walking result in fatal collisions.
Each of these crashes cut someone’s life short and deprived the victim’s friends and family of years with a loved one. We can put an end to this, but only if we acknowledge the human toll and take bold steps to design safer streets. Other cities are systematically reducing traffic fatalities, and so can Denver.
To that end, we remember the people killed while walking and biking on Denver streets last year.
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.
“Christian had a wonderful sense of humor and was full of life,” his obit states.
Michael Hoglund, 28
Hoglund was crossing Federal Boulevard at Howard Place in a painted crosswalk when Ruben Paseiro-Lopez rammed him with a Nissan Altima.
Paseiro-Lopez hit Hoglund at such a high speed that Hoglund was thrown across the intersection. Authorities charged Paseiro-Lopez with careless driving resulting in death. The case is pending.
Hoglund was a construction worker who used to spend his high school summers caring for disabled kids and adults. He’s survived by his parents, a brother, two sisters, and grandparents, among other friends and family.
Gilberto Granillo-Chavez, 75
On the morning of February 1, Chavez began crossing Federal Boulevard at Louisiana Avenue. Chavez had almost crossed all six lanes when Damian Garcia, driving a Ford F250 “at a stated speed of 40-45 mph,” failed to stop in time to avoid striking 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.
An uncle and brother, Chavez emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, his obituary states.
Danny Bramer, 59
Bramer was trying to cross Federal near 7th Avenue when Michael Dugan, 20, struck and killed him with a Buick Century.
Dugan was driving “at a stated speed of 45 mph,” according to the police report.
That’s 10 mph over the speed limit, but neither Denver PD nor the district attorney charged Dugan with anything. Police were sure to blame Bramer in their official account, however, which says that he broke the law by crossing the street outside of an official crosswalk.
Bramer had a mother, sister, and a son whom he and his wife, Kim, raised in Westminster. The couple loved to bowl.
Kimberly Macey, 33
Two young boys will grow up without their mother, Kimberly Macey. Jason Brown, driving his truck “at an unknown speed,” ran over Macey as she walked through a Broadway alley near Ellsworth Avenue on June 2. Brown proceeded to step on the gas and flee the scene, according to a police report.
Denver PD arrested Brown. He faces one count of careless driving resulting in death, one count of careless driving resulting in injury, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident. His case is still making its way through the justice system.
Lee Robinson, 86
Robinson was trying to cross seven lanes of traffic on Federal near Florida Avenue when Nathan Trujillo, driving a Corvette, struck and killed him. Trujillo was driving “at an unknown speed,” according to the police report. No charges were filed. Denver PD’s official report describes Robinson as a “transient.”
The victim had a wife, two children, and 24 grandchildren. “There is no better example than you, Grandpa,” One of them wrote on his obituary page. “You taught us everything we need to know.”
Nathan Heggenberger, 41
Heggenberger was trying to cross Albrook Drive in Montbello when 36-year-old Micaela Messina, driving 10 mph over the 25 mph speed limit, killed him with a Saturn Vue. Messina was changing lanes and “failed to observe a pedestrian in the roadway,” the police report states.
Messina faces a charge of careless driving resulting in death.
Christopher Tye, 36
Tye died on is birthday, July 20, four days after a driver struck him at Mississippi and Dahlia. The driver fled, and the case remains unsolved.
Tye was an actor and musician known for his five-octave singing range. He is survived by a 17-year-old daughter and a mother who lost her second son in as many years.
Ronald Phelps, 56
On July 28, Emily Gomez, 81, ran over and killed Phelps as he biked on 51st Avenue near Federal Boulevard. Gomez faces charges for careless driving resulting in death.
Phelps is survived by his mother, five siblings, and nieces and nephews.
Raymond Sanchez, 57
Sanchez was crossing Federal at Arkansas Avenue on August 24 at about 9:10 p.m. when a driver in a Mitsubishi Outlander struck and killed him.
Denver PD filed no charges and blamed the victim for the crash. According to the police report, the driver was adhering to the 40 mph speed limit, and Sanchez, identified in the report as a “transient,” was crossing against the traffic signal.
Steven Glade, 26
Glade was trying to cross 20th Street at Blake when Adrian Escalante, 28, driving a Range Rover at between 50 and 55 mph, hit and killed him. Escalante fled, but police arrested him later. He faces several charges, including vehicular homicide.
Glade’s obituary describes him as a “man of science” who “built and maintained strong relationships.”
Tina Padilla, 40
Padilla, a mother of three, was walking on Federal Boulevard near Ellsworth Avenue on the night of August 27 when she was struck and killed. The driver, Edward J. Sack, faces a vehicular homicide charge.
Padilla had three children and was engaged to be married to Aaron Samora. They were saving up for a wedding when Sack cut her life short.
SarahJanae Shepherd, 21
Shepherd, a reservist in the Marine Corps, was killed crossing I-25 near the Franklin Street overpass. Denver PD did not charge the driver with a crime.
Xanh Bui, 73
Bui was trying to cross Federal at Arizona Avenue a little after 6 a.m. on October 6 when Wesley Widdick, 53, hit and killed her with a Dodge Ram, according to a Denver PD report. Police blamed Bui for her own death, stating in the official account that she “walked into the path” of Widdick.
No charges were filed.
Dominique Amos, 18
The public only knows two things about this crash: A driver killed Amos near the intersection of Leetsdale Drive and Quebec Street on December 21, and that driver faces no charges. Denver PD has not released the police report, so details are scarce.
Amos “was a beautiful, happy, vibrant young woman,” a fundraising page for the family’s funeral expenses states. “At 18 years old she was ready to begin life as an adult. She had plans to move to California in the new year and begin the next chapter.”