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Investigation of Cortez hit-and-run stalls

Pedestrian seriously injured in Jan. 15 crash
Emergency responders tend to a pedestrian who was reportedly struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Mildred Road and Montezuma Avenue about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. A suspect vehicle was described as a gray SUV and was being sought by Cortez Police.

There are no new leads in the investigation of a hit-and-run crash that seriously injured a pedestrian at the intersection of Mildred Road and Montezuma Avenue Jan. 15.

“It’s unfortunate. I hope the person comes forward,” said Lt. Andy Brock of the Cortez Police Department. “Someone out there knows something, and I encourage them to reach out to us.”

Jesse Cline, of Cortez, was struck by a northbound vehicle about 6:30 p.m. while in the crosswalk heading east across Mildred Road, according to witnesses. He was thrown about 40 feet and suffered a pelvic fracture, fractured knee and a head injury. Cline, 27, was transported Southwest Memorial, then to University of New Mexico Hospital.

The suspect vehicle, a gray or silver four-door Chevrolet Silverado pickup with possible tinted windows left the scene heading northbound and is still being sought by police.

A witness who stopped to help Cline said the truck that allegedly hit him did not stop or slow down, according to the incident report.

Witnesses described the suspect truck as “clean looking.” It likely has front-end damage and a dented hood from hitting Cline. A deer-warning whistle typically attached to front bumpers was found at the scene.

During the investigation, police collected surveillance video from several locations on the route to and from the crash.

The truck could be seen in the video, but there was no clear picture of the license plate.

Video of the crash and vehicle was obtained from the Cortez City Pool, the Speedway gas station on Main Street and Osprey Packs Inc.

The Speedway video shows the suspect Chevy Sliverado pickup eastbound on Main Street. It moves into the left turn lane, waits for traffic to clear, then turns left onto Mildred Road.

The Osprey video is pointed toward the intersection of Mildred and Empire, where the pickup was heading after the collision. It captured the suspect pickup northbound on Mildred as it left the Empire intersection.

Surveillance video was also collected from Dolores State Bank, Medicine Man, Colorado Welcome Center and Four Corners Community Bank, but the footage did not provide additional clues.

Prior to the incident, the city of Cortez had been conducting a traffic study on the heavily used Mildred and Montezuma intersection.

In February, city crews converted it to a four-way stop from a two-way stop to improve driver and pedestrian safety.

In addition, the turn lanes on Montezuma will be eliminated at the intersection so it is single lane in all directions,

The traffic counts have risen to more than 300 per hour, which qualifies the intersection for the four-way stop, based on a Colorado Department of Transportation evaluation and a city engineering study released in December. The traffic counts are not high enough to warrant a traffic light, officials said.

There have been five crashes at the intersection in the past four years, and a lot of near misses, according to law enforcement and city officials.

Anyone who may have information on the pedestrian hit and run on Jan. 15 is urged to call Cortez Police at 970-565-8441.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com

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