Drivers who flee hit and runs face serious consequences

Skyler Leonard

On Oct. 18, homecoming weekend, Natalie Curry left early from the packed football game at Hughes Stadium. The Overland Trail road was dark as she biked home.

As she turned right on Prospect Road, she saw headlights. The driver was turning left onto Prospect, but made a wide turn that sent the vehicle into the bike lane.

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“(The truck) side mirror hit the back of my head and then it bent the left side of my handle bar so I hit my hand,” Curry said. “I don’t remember anything after that.”

Later Curry would learn that the collision gave her a concussion, a dislocated shoulder and various bruises and cuts.

“The next thing I remember after I got hit was these parents helping me … I think they had offered to take me home but I was still really confused about what had just happened,” Curry said.

The vehicle that struck Curry drove off. Before it hit her, she remembered seeing a black truck and from the noise and how high up the side mirror must have been to hit her. She thinks it was a large truck.

At the time, no one called in the accident. Still dazed, she told the concerned parents that she was fine and started the walk home. Soon after, with her phone dead, she became lost and got a ride from a woman who had just pulled into a driveway. It wasn’t until Curry got home that her roommates called the police and an ambulance.

According to Curry, the police have closed the case, and because there was no surrounding cameras pointed toward the street, they were unable to capture the vehicle description.

So far this semester, the Collegian has reported on two other instances of hit-and-runs, both involving a car and a pedestrian. In early July, Marie O’Connor, 28, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, 4 months of probation for fleeing the scene of an accident near I-25 in January that led to the death of a bicyclist. O’Connor turned herself in four days after the hit-and-run.

Along with the prison time, O’Connor was ordered to do 200 hours of community service, pay the bicyclist’s family $24,000 and also pay $6,000 to a charity in the name of the victim.

Fleeing the scene of an accident results in far greater consequences for drivers than if they remain at the scene. According to Sgt. Joel Tower of the Fort Collins Police traffic enforcement unit, if there is serious bodily injury as the result of a hit and run, the driver faces a class 4 felony and could be sentenced to 2-6 years in jail and be fined anywhere from $2,000 to $500,000.

In comparison, those who remain at the seen will only be charged with whatever traffic offense that may have occurred. According to Towers, traffic infractions only result in fines and or taking points from a person’s drivers license.

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Curry’s mother, Jeanne Curry, said she was amazed that someone would flee the scene of an accident and encouraged cyclists to bike safely.

“I’d like to highly encourage all of the cyclist to wear brighter clothing to make themselves more noticeable to traffic,” she said.

Collegian Reporter Skyler Leonard can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @skyler_leonard.