Driver Charged With Vehicular Homicide After Passenger Opens SUV Door, Dies

DENVER (CBS4)– Police in Denver have arrested a driver after his passenger opened the door of the SUV and fell, striking his head.

Jeffrey Harrington was driving a Jeep at about 12:30 a.m. Friday in the 2300 block of North Cherry Creek Drive approaching University Boulevard.

Police said Harrington, 39, was driving westbound in the eastbound lane.

Police said David “Sparky” Truax, a passenger in the Jeep, opened his door and fell to the ground, striking his head. He died a short time later at Denver Health Medical Center from blunt force injuries.

sparky truax Driver Charged With Vehicular Homicide After Passenger Opens SUV Door, Dies

David "Sparky" Truax (credit: South Metro Fire)

“We are just saddened and devastated by this news not just because it’s a few days before Christmas but because everyone genuinely liked Sparky Truax,” said South Metro Fire Rescue spokesman Andy Lyon.

Truax, 50, was a firefighter and EMT with South Metro Fire Rescue for 10 years.

sparky truax3 Driver Charged With Vehicular Homicide After Passenger Opens SUV Door, Dies

David "Sparky" Truax (credit: South Metro Fire)

Harrington also worked at South Metro Fire Dept. as a firefighter and EMT but left in 2007 as a lieutenant. Harrington and Truax were hired at South Metro Fire on the same day.

According to jail records, Harrington requested special housing because of his involvement with the Sheridan Fire Department.

Police suspected that Harrington was under the influence of alcohol. He was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol and vehicular homicide.

“If you are drinking and something bad happens, even if it’s not something you directly do, you are responsible for that accident,” said Denver Police Lt. Matt Murray.

“I am saddened for all involved. We’re going to let the Denver Police do what they need to do,” said Lyon.

Harrington remains in custody.

  • B. Dover

    Sad. The alcohol industry, since the gitgo and still today works behind the scene to keep “killer” marijuana illegal.

  • Vibe

    B. Dover: agreed about the issue of cannabis vs alcohol, but not about the poor taste of using a tragic error in judgment as a springboard for a pet issue.

    While the need to hold Harrington responsible for drunk driving is paramount, vehicular homicide seems like the usual prosecutorial over-reach for sake of career advancement.

    Can’t claim to know a thing about the events leading up to this tragedy, but apparently Truax, no matter how well liked, got into a vehicle driven by an impaired driver, didn’t buckle up, and at some point opened his door.

    Attempting to convict Harrington for more than what he did is the equivalent of presuming that Truax, with his professional experience of responding capably to life-threatening emergencies, was a hapless victim devoid of personal responsibility in the events leading to his untimely demise.

    Harrington will easily spend the next twenty years acutely dealing with the legal and personal consequences of drunk driving and losing a good friend. Hope the DA recognizes this and chooses only to prosecute the actual crime.

    • Ducati372

      Excellent point, Vibe. The reporter didn’t mention if Harrington hit another vehicle or object with his Jeep, which would explain (possibly) why Truax “opened his door and fell out” of Harrington’s Jeep. On the assumption that Harrington did not hit an object or swerve abruptly, Truax CHOSE to open his door and unfortunately, fall to his death. The reporter did not state Harrington pushed Truax out of his Jeep, but rather Truax opened the passenger door with his own hand. As tragic as it is for a man to lose his life prematurely and leave his wife and two children behind, Truax, a 50 year old man, CHOSE to get into Harrington’s Jeep. I don’t think anyone would argue that Harrington should be held accountable for driving under the influence of alcohol, but I do think the charge of “vehicular homicide” should be carefully re-examined.

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