Hit and run accidents spike in Lakewood

Lakewood PD calls them an epidemic in social media posts

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/23/21

Hit and run accidents are on the rise. According to Lakewood Police, their city alone had more than 1,000 of them in 2020 alone. “The act of leaving the scene of a crash is dangerous, disrespectful …

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Hit and run accidents spike in Lakewood

Lakewood PD calls them an epidemic in social media posts

Posted

Hit and run accidents are on the rise.

According to Lakewood Police, their city alone had more than 1,000 of them in 2020 alone.

“The act of leaving the scene of a crash is dangerous, disrespectful & cowardly,” a recent department press release read. “So many victims have been impacted physically, financially or worse and it isn’t tolerated.”

Police say if you’re involved in a hit and run, get as much information about the driver, car and crash as possible, including license plate number, the other vehicle’s make, model and color, description of damage to the other vehicle and which direction the other vehicle was headed.

They also warn against trying to follow the fleeing driver and advise to call 911 if you or someone else is injured in the crash. 

If you have a dash cam, Lakewood PD advises you to mount one in the front and rear of your vehicle.

If you are involved in a crash, always identify yourself to the others involved in the accident and report the crash to the police.

Lakewood PD says your other responsibilities are to exchange insurance information with the other driver and try to help the other party if they are injured or in danger.

If you damage an unoccupied car in a parking lot, Lakewood PD reminds you it’s your duty to try to locate the owner or leave a note with your contact and vehicle information. If you don’t — that’s a hit and run.

Leaving the scene of an accident is against the law and could result in fines or jail time. So, police want you to apply a bit of the golden rule if you’re involved in an auto accident and treat people the way you’d like to be treated yourself.

Lakewood police agent, Ty Countryman, has been in traffic enforcement for 26 years. He’s seen every type of accident there is. 

Countryman says he’s noticed a big uptick in Hit & Runs. He’s not sure about the reasons for the increase but has a suspicion there’s common elements in a lot of the cases.

“The volume of cars, especially now that we’re seeing post-pandemic levels rise to pre-pandemic levels — people spent a year driving on these side streets without much traffic — now all of the sudden we have

rush hours again,” he says. “We have constant traffic, and we have to get back into that mode of slow down, focus and pay attention.”

Countryman says a hit and run which results in Serious Bodily Injury (SBI in police lingo) or death, is a felony. He recalls a case that involved a driver who hit a pedestrian where the hit and run crime put the driver away for a long prison stretch when he could have just received a ticket if he hadn’t run.

“The pedestrian was at fault. And they (the driver) hit the pedestrian and left, and then through the camera systems, I was able to come up with a suspect and I charged him with it — the felony of the hit and run with death — and he got nine years in prison. The only reason he ran is that he didn’t have a valid license.”

Countryman says the driver in that case, would have walked away with only a ticket for not having a license. He also said he suspects up to 75% of drivers who flee an accident, do so because of an underlying reason — DUI, suspended license, no insurance, a warrant for their arrest or the like. 

“People fear the penalty of the crash itself and they get the fight or flight syndrome, and they don’t know how to handle it, so they run,” he said. “Once they run, it’s that snowball effect.”

Countryman ends by advising people to just “do the right thing” and the situation will always be easier on everyone involved.

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