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Homeless Hit & Run Victim Was Father, Former Music Teacher

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Shawn & Brittni Smith (credit: Brittni Smith)

Shawn & Brittni Smith (credit: Brittni Smith)

DENVER (CBS4) – A father and former music teacher was run over and killed by a suspected car thief Saturday morning. Now the family of Shawn Smith is pleading for help finding the driver.

Shawn Smith, who was homeless, and two other men were camped out at 20th and Central in Denver at about 3:30 a.m. when a car came speeding through. Two of the men were seriously injured and Smith was run over and killed.

Smith’s daughter, Brittni Smith, got the word at about 5 a.m. Saturday morning. It was a call she’d feared for years.

“He was very sweet and caring and just really special,” she said.

Brittni adored her father. She remembers a funny and loving father, a talented drummer and a school music teacher. He most recently worked as a substitute in Denver Schools. But Brittni also described a dad who drank a lot and struggled financially — a man who lost his home and lost his way.

“Once you get to that point it’s hard to get back up,” she said.

Five years ago Brittni said she took her father to the Denver Rescue Mission. They stayed in touch while he lived in shelters and on the streets.

“We had like a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ sort of thing. I knew the circumstance but I just couldn’t know the details.”

Her father had been sleeping on a grassy spot near Interstate 25 and 20th. He was run over when a speeding car thief lost control. Brittni wants the driver and others involved to take responsibility.

“They didn’t just kill a homeless person and injure two of his friends, but that they killed a father — they killed my father.”

Some of her father’s street family left flowers at the crime scene.

“I’m going to miss him a lot,” a woman who left flowers said.

So will his daughter. But Brittni believes both she and her father will now find peace.

“It will be really hard not to have my dad but at the same time it’ll be good because I won’t have to worry anymore.”

Brittni last saw her father in March. She was upset that he didn’t make it to her college graduation. But she said no matter what he did she loved her father unconditionally.

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