AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Police on Monday arrested the suspected driver of a car involved in a deadly crash during a pursuit.
George West, 29, of Denver is in custody. He faces vehicular homicide charges.
The wreck happened Saturday night at the intersection of 13th and Pontiac in Denver. Investigators say West’s car hit another vehicle, killing the other driver, identified as Candace Stuart.
Stuart, 66, owned a Wild Bird Center store in Denver. When she didn’t show up to work on Sunday her employees knew something was wrong.
The Wild Bird Center had been Stuart’s business for almost 18 years. Steve Cook is a part-time employee and had just worked with Stuart on Saturday.
“We were just hopping the whole day and she was on top of it; and joking and smiling and joking further as we walked out to our cars,” Cook said.
That was the last time he’d see Stuart alive. That night just before 11 p.m., blocks from her home, another vehicle collided with Stuart’s SUV. The car that hit her was being pursued by Aurora police. Witnesses say speeds reached 70 to 80 miles per hour.
Aurora police say the suspects they were chasing were believed to be involved in a shooting.
“In this case somebody was hit, they knew that when they came in contact with the car, and there’s a strong belief that this car and the occupants were responsible for that shooting,” Officer Frank Fania with Aurora police said.
Three suspects were in the car but police have only arrested West and charged him with vehicular homicide.
So far there are no shooting-related charges. Aurora police say they are still investigating the shooting and stand behind the decision to chase.
Stuart died at the hospital from her injuries.
“My goodness, how many thousands of people did Candace Stuart turn onto bird watching?” Cook said.
Her store will close temporarily after Tuesday to figure out some legal issues since Stuart was the sole owner, but it does plan reopen.
Stuart’s family released the following statement:
Candace Stuart was full of life and energy and the most caring, giving person you could meet. She owned a Wild Bird Center store, loved feeding birds at her home and was a contributor to John Cretti’s gardening radio show. She owned two parrots as well. She was active and loved riding her bicycle, hiking and going on birdwalks in the mountains and around the neighborhood. She was open, loving, kind, generous, happy, and it was uplifting just to be around her. Her passing leaves a crater in our hearts. She is survived by a brother, Dennis Stuart, and sister, Lisa Perry.
Memorial donations can be made to WILD B.I.R.D. Rescue & Rehabilitation Center:
PO Box 101133
Denver, CO 80250