DENVER — Co-workers are searching for answers after a Blue Pan Pizza employee was killed while he was riding home after his shift.
Nicholas "Nick" Cordova, 46, was fatally struck just after midnight on Nov. 18 while riding his beloved red scooter in the intersection of North Speer Boulevard and North Grove Street.
The Denver Police Department said a white 2002-2009 Chevy Trailblazer was traveling westbound on Speer when it struck Cordova, who was traveling eastbound. The driver kept on driving after the crash and did not stop.
“Nick Cordova was one of our shift leads," said Sara Walter, general manager of Blue Pan Pizza in Denver's Highlands neighborhood. “He was so thoughtful. He would find out what you liked and what was important to you, and he would always ask about it. He loved animals. He volunteered at a local animal shelter taking care of puppies, he loved it. He would come into work with photos of them and stories about them. He was a musician. He had a beautiful singing voice. He loved theater, was an actor, and just a rock star. We loved him very much.”
Walter said Cordova made every shift at work a true pleasure and was a calming presence.
“He really, really cared about his coworkers," Walter said softly. “We would get very busy and he was a great guy to have in the trenches with you. He could just put his head down and get us through. And then you know, we'd have a drink at the end of the shift.”
His co-workers grew concerned after Cordova did not show up for his next shift.
“When we still hadn't heard from him, one of my other co-workers went over to his house to see if he was there... He'd called out a couple days before, he wasn't feeling super well. So we thought, you know, maybe he's at home, maybe he's just really not feeling well and couldn't, couldn't notify anybody," Walter said. “They went over there and saw that his dog had not been let out in a little while. And that's, that's when we knew that there was something wrong because he loves that dog.”
When Cordova's co-workers at Blue Pan Pizza learned he was killed in a hit-and-run crash, they printed flyers to post around the neighborhood and hand out to auto-body repair shops, in an effort to learn the driver of the suspected vehicle.
“He was so caring, and to have his death happen in such an uncaring and unfeeling way, just seems contrary to who he was," Walter said. “We just want to do right by him and honor who he was and I think finding who did this would help us feel like we've done that.”
The Trailblazer was last seen traveling southbound through the North Grove/Hooker Street alley toward W. 29th Avenue. The SUV will have front-end damage and is missing the front bumper, according to Denver police.
Anyone with information is asked to call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867. Tipsters can remain anonymous and could earn a reward of up to $2,000.
Data from the Denver PD shows a three-year average of 5,672 hit-and-run crashes in the city from 2020 to 2022. During that same time period, there was an average of 13 fatal hit-and-run crashes each year.
So far in 2023, there have been 6,102 hit-and-run crashes, and 11 were deadly.