Monday, July 1, 2002
Steamboat Springs The driver of a 1983 maroon Porsche convertible believed to have been involved in a June 23 hit and run may never be charged with hitting and abandoning a pedestrian.
That is because so far, there is no one who can identify him.
"That's a definite possibility," Detective Dave Kleiber said. "We could still turn up some evidence through forensic science."
The Porsche has been in police custody as evidence since it was found abandoned in front of Antares restaurant at 57 1/2 Eighth St. The windshield was broken and the hood was dented from the incident. The car struck Jerry Bryant as he was crossing the intersection of Seventh and Lincoln at about 1 a.m. on a Sunday morning.
Police have identified the owner of the Porsche as Steamboat resident Tom Coleman, Kleiber said.
But police have not been able to determine if Coleman or someone else was driving the vehicle when the accident took place.
According to court records, Coleman has pleaded guilty to two DUI charges in the last decade. The most recent charge dates back to 1997; the other happened in 1994.
"This is hypothetical," Kleiber said, "With prior convictions for DUI, the accused will face a much more severe punishment."
Coleman, 44, has referred all questions to his attorney, Tim Oliphant. Coleman has not admitted any involvement in the accident.
Police are waiting for the results of fingerprinting and other tests before making a decision on an arrest, Kleiber said.
Even if they are unable to make a conviction in the hit-and-run case, Bryant could still have a case in civil court.
"The standard of proof is a lot lower in civil court," Kleiber said.
Bryant's attorney, Gerry Young, could not be reached for comment.
At this point, Bryant's hospital bills have been covered by the personal injury protection of his auto insurance under Colorado's no-fault law, according to State Farm agent Debbie Aragon.
The law, passed in 1974, was designed to keep people out of court, she said.
"The protection has a $2,500 threshold," Aragon said. "I'm sure his bills will get up to that point."
Bryant, a meat cutter at Safeway in Steamboat, was released from the hospital last Tuesday afternoon after undergoing reconstructive surgery to his hand, said Christine McKelvie, spokesperson for the Yampa Valley Medical Center.
Forty-four-year-old Bryant began physical therapy Friday to build up his knee so he can undergo surgery for a torn anterior crucial ligament and a torn medial collateral ligament, said Young in a phone interview last week.