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Fatal hit-and-runs up 125 percent in Denver

7:10 PM, Nov 5, 2012   |    comments
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In 2010, Denver saw 3,463 hit-and-runs in the first nine months of the year. This year, in the same time period, there have been nearly 5,600.

"We have seen a significant increase this year, and I don't have a good handle on why that occurred," Denver Police Lieutenant Robert Rock said.

Rock says there has also been a 175 percent increase in fatal hit-and-runs in Denver, from four deaths in 2011 to 11 hit-and-run fatalities this year to date.

According to statistics, fatal hit-and-runs statewide are also up 120 percent.

The good news: a law passed earlier this year has made the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident more harsh.

"There was a loophole that existed which gave incentive to leave the scene. The penalty that was associated with that was not as high, so we increased the penalty," State Rep. Rhonda Fields, one of the bill sponsors, said.

Now, a hit-and-run resulting in serious bodily injury goes up from a class five felony to a class four felony. A hit-and-run resulting in death goes up from a class four felony to a class three felony.

One of the first to see this bill in effect is 46-year-old Joel Martinez who's being accused of hitting and killing another man in Lakewood and then fleeing the scene. The accident happened just seven hours after the new law took effect.

Erin Finn, 20, is also facing similar charges. Police say she left the scene of a fatal hit-and-run on C-470 last week.

Rock says of all the hit and runs in Denver, very few remain unsolved.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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