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Police: Several Reasons For Hit-And-Runs, Intoxication Tops List

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4)- Police believe there are several reasons behind why a driver would take off after crashing into another vehicle or person, but say intoxication tops that list.

On Sunday night, 11-year-old Michael Espinoza was killed in a hit and run as he was crossing Federal Blvd.

Oswaldo Lopez, 21, is being held in the Denver Jail on a $50,000 bond. He’s facing charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident for allegedly striking the child.

Oswaldo Lopez talks with CBS4's Jennifer Brice (credit; CBS)

Oswaldo Lopez talks with CBS4’s Jennifer Brice (credit; CBS)

“I just went to my home, explained to my mom,” said Lopez.

Lopez told CBS4 from jail that he left the scene because he didn’t want to be arrested.

“I felt guilty and overwhelmed,” said Lopez. “I was crying inside of me and I did want to stop but I was just confused.”

Denver Police Sgt. Mike Farr has talked to many hit-and-run suspects during his 15-year tenure in traffic investigations. More than likely, he says, evidence leads detectives to suspects rather than suspects turning themselves in.

“Folks are just simply not doing the right thing here.. either legally or morally and we should be outraged,” said Farr.

Last year the Denver Police Department investigated more than 3,800 hit-and-runs. Of those, 33 cases involved serious bodily injury and five people were killed.

Michael Espinoza (credit: CBS)

Michael Espinoza (credit: CBS)

“Society doesn’t just see it as, ‘Oh, it happened to them…’ It could happen to all of us,” said Farr.

Lopez admits he was street racing when he struck Espinoza. He said he was sober but was drinking beer before the crash and did not want to get arrested.

When asked if he feels remorse, Lopez answered, “I am. I’m kinda traumatic about it.”

Police in Denver said when you are involved in a hit-and-run it automatically becomes a felony charge. If the driver would have stopped, depending on the circumstances, that same crash could have been a misdemeanor charge.

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