By Anica Padilla
WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) — A Wheat Ridge woman involved in a hit-and-run crash says she tracked down the vehicle that hit her with “some serious personal investigative sleuthing and the kindness and countless leads of strangers.” Her Jeep is probably totaled, and she’s still sore from the impact, but Emily Bathen says her hope is to help the other driver — who she believes was drunk.
Bathen captured photos of the car and the driver and described Sunday’s events on Facebook.
“I was rear ended by her while I was stopped and she came barreling down the road,” Bathen wrote. “Stunned but ok, I got out to go talk to her, see if she was alright and call 911. I snapped this quick photo.”

(credit: Emily Bathen)

“The woman had gotten out of her car, looked at me with glazed over eyes and abruptly stumbled back in her vehicle, threw it reverse and peeled away,” Bathen stated.

A Wheat Ridge Police report documents the woman driving erratically through the city and disposing of alcohol.

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“She sped away in reverse, driving through yards, narrowly missing other drivers and throwing liquor bottles out the window.”

Bathen said she was stunned, but called 911.

“Residents of the neighborhood starting racing out of their homes after hearing the crash. Some of them attempting to chase her, assessing the damage to their neighbors yard, checking their home security systems for a license plate and offering me comfort until my fiancé, Mom and the police got there,” Bathen said.

“By the time the police arrived less than seven minutes later, five different people throughout Wheat Ridge had called her in for driving erratically, running red lights, etc.,” Bathen wrote.

When Bathen’s mother arrived, her reaction surprised some of the people who had gathered.

“She’d already caught wind that the woman was intoxicated,” Bathen said. “Instead of shaming her like so many others had already done, her first words were, ‘Em, maybe you can help her.’”

Bathen says she understands alcoholism and the consequences of drinking and driving better than most.

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“I hurt for her because during my extensive drinking career, I was involved in several accidents while under the influence,” Bathen wrote. “One of them I fled the scene… I was eventually found and charged with some hefty consequences.”

Wheat Ridge Police later found the vehicle in a battery shop parking lot, and contacted the driver, who was issued a court summons.

Bathen is in recovery — and says Sunday’s crash resulted in an unexpected “beautiful moment.”

“People started asking how I could possibly help her and it was a beautiful moment to be able to share my story and testimony with complete strangers,” Bathen wrote.

Now, Bathen is helping others struggling with addiction, through a group called Serenity Adventures Co, focused on sobriety, adventurous activities and nutrition.

And, with the help of many strangers — some at the crash scene and some who responded to her Facebook post — Bathen found the silver Lexus at a local auto body repair shop the very next day.

(credit: Emily Bathen)

“Police have identified the driver,” Bathen wrote on Monday, but said investigators would not give her the driver’s name.

“I’ve cycled through moments of feeling extreme anger and extreme compassion for this woman. As hard as my day has been, I can only imagine how she’s feeling today.”

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“I hope that this is life changing for her and she seeks a life worth living.”

Anica Padilla