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Aurora residents: Dangerous intersection led to fatal crash

City to evaluate 16th & Alton
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Posted at 6:46 PM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 20:56:08-04

AURORA, Colo. — An Aurora man has been complaining about an intersection near his home for years. This month, he watched someone lose his life there.

Gabriel Chavez, 72, was hit just as he was riding his bike at E. 16th Ave and Alton Street near Colfax. He died a week later. Now, his family and neighbors are raising a red flag about the intersection.

Combine cars going too fast with cyclists and pedestrians, and what happened at the busy intersection July 1 is what neighbor Mathew King has always feared.

"I have the video because I have a security system on my building that captures this entire area," said King, whose surveillance camera has caught crashes there before, including one in 2017. "They just hit each other right here in the intersection all the time."

King's camera captured the crash that killed Chavez.

"He is going to be missed and his his was very loved by all our family," said Deanna Chavez, the 72-year-old's niece.

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Gabriel Chavez

"It is clear that it's a dangerous intersection," she said. "I think that something needs to be done, because now a life has been lost."

For years, King has been warning the city that the intersection is dangerous. He said traffic engineers turned down his request to install a four-way stop years ago. Now, he is reaching out to his city council member to request it again.

"You kind of feel responsible, that maybe you should have fought harder and maybe this would not have happened," said King.

In the last five years, Aurora police have responded to accidents at the intersection nearly two dozen times. In 2017 alone, there were 10 collisions reported. However, because only the most recent collision involved an injury, police said they don't consider the intersection dangerous.

Neighbors, however, tell us they suspect many crashes go unreported.

"It's dangerous, and [there is] a lot of kids around here, too," said James Wessel. "People go so fast."

Contact Denver7 reached out to Aurora Public Works, which released this statement promising to evaluate the intersection for safety measures:

"Safety is a top priority for the City of Aurora Public Works Department, and we are coordinating with the police department on the most recent accident. Staff are also researching to see if any past requests are on file with respect to this location.

Regarding the request for all-way stop control at the intersection, the intersection will be evaluated for traffic patterns that might meet the criteria for an all-way stop condition per the methods specified by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Traffic volume and speed data collection will be scheduled as soon as possible to determine if volumes are above the thresholds for all-way stop control. A detailed review of crash data will also be completed as part of this request to determine if a crash pattern exists that could be mitigated by an all-way stop control. Lastly, a field visit will be conducted to determine if other mitigation measures are needed at the intersection."

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