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SUV spray-painted red after Lakewood hit-and-run crash, affidavit says

Zulema Vasquez, 35, faces charges of hit-and-run, motor vehicle theft and driving under restraint.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — When investigators located an SUV believed to be involved in a hit-and-run in Lakewood on April 10 it was covered in a fresh coat of red spray paint, according to an affidavit from the Lakewood Police Department (LPD).

Court and jail records show that Zulema Vasquez,35, was arrested in connection with the crash on West Colfax Avenue near Sheridan Boulevard. It's believed she was the one driving the vehicle, but two others were with her in the vehicle at the time of the crash, according to the affidavit.

Vasquez faces charges of hit-and-run causing serious injury, and motor vehicle theft, and driving under restraint.

On Monday, LPD said they made "several" arrests but did not publicly name them.

RELATED: 'Several' arrests made in Lakewood hit-and-run, police say

Just after noon on April 10, LPD agents responded to the intersection of West Colfax Avenue near Sheridan Boulevard where they found numerous people attending to an injured man in the roadway. The 60-year-old man suffered a broken pelvis and was taken to the hospital for treatment, the affidavit says.

A witness said he was at the nearby bus stop and saw the victim standing in the median waiting to cross Colfax in the southbound direction, the affidavit says. The witness said he saw the light for east and westbound traffic turn from red to green and saw the victim begin to cross the street, according to the affidavit.

The witness reported that he saw the man in the roadway get struck by an older model green Chevy Blazer. According to the witness, the victim "flew" into the air. He also reported that the vehicle tried to stop because he recalled hearing the sounds of brakes screeching, the affidavit says.

The witness said the Chevy remained on scene for a short amount of time and then backed up and drove off through the parking lot of a nearby 7-Eleven, according to the document.

Investigators found video of the collision as well as images of the vehicle leaving the parking lot of the Big Bunny Motel just prior to the crash. The video indicated the vehicle was actually black with a green hood.

Credit: Lakewood Police Department

A day after the crash, on April 11, an agent on routine patrol spotted an older Chevy Blazer in the Big Bunny Motel parking lot that "appeared red but was spray-painted," the affidavit says. The vehicle had a temporary tag and when the agent requested information about that tag, he learned the vehicle had been reported stolen from Edgewater on April 8.

RELATED: Deputy let wrong-way driver on I-70 hit his SUV to save others, sheriff's office says

The agent looked closer at the vehicle and noticed it appeared to be black under the red spray paint. He also noticed the hood was green under the new red paint, the affidavit says. The agent also noted a large dent in the hood. The agent observed the distinct smell of fresh spray paint as he stood near the vehicle, the affidavit says.

Investigators reviewed security footage and saw three people exit the vehicle and enter a room at the motel, the affidavit says. 

Agents contacted the three people and one of them indicated that Vasquez was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash.

They also encountered a man wearing a gray shirt that appeared to have red spray paint on it, the affidavit says. He appeared to have paint on his hands, according to the document.

Vasquez spoke with investigators and admitted to driving the Blazer, the affidavit says. She reported that there was a large SUV next to her as she drove eastbound and she noticed that SUV slowing down and then a man "appeared out of nowhere." She said she tried to stop but couldn't, according to the affidavit.

According to the document, she admitted to staying at the scene for a few minutes but then left because she was "scared." She reported to police that she was unaware the vehicle was stolen and denied knowing who had painted the vehicle red. DMV records show Vasquez's license had been suspended.

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