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'He will not be forgotten': Loved ones spread light in honor of teen killed by suspected impaired driver

Suspect scheduled to appear in court Tuesday
Family, friends share story of teen killed by suspected impaired driver
Posted at 9:07 PM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-22 23:07:09-04

DENVER — Renee Lund has been counting the weeks since she last saw her son, Tanner.

“He was always the fun kid," Lund laughed. "Most of my pictures are of him making a weird face. You know, it's hard to get a serious picture from him.”

She said Tanner was starting to come into his own at the age of 19. His best friend, Manuel Rodriguez, said the two had known each other for years.

“You're never not laughing. There's never a dull moment really," Rodriguez said about spending time with Tanner.

Keelyn Wilson said she and Tanner would have been dating for two years this August.

“We met. We just instantly clicked," Wilson said. “We just loved each other. It was easy.”

On March 26, Tanner was killed in a car crash at the intersection of 98th and Federal.

“Tanner was making a legal left turn. And the person that hit him was going at least 30 miles over the speed limit," said Lund. "I want people to understand that Tanner didn't do anything wrong. He was literally a victim of homicide, of vehicular homicide.”

The suspect involved in the crash, Noe Menjivar Chavez, has been charged in Adams County Court with two counts of vehicular homicide. One of the charges is related to driving under the influence, and the other is reckless driving. Chavez is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday at 9 a.m.

“Learning that he had been drunk, it made me a little bit more angry just because that's so common. Like, it shouldn't be," Rodriguez said.

Wilson was one car behind Tanner when the crash happened.

“The accident, I remember pretty much everything... I remember the light turning green. So he turned left. And then all I saw was just, like, the truck that the guy was in, like, flipped in the air. And then I remember thinking, "That did not just happen,"" Wilson recalled. “I ran to the car, and then people took me away from the car... Honestly, it's a lot easier now. Before, it was really hard to get that image out of my head.”

Lund said she has rage inside of her thinking about that day. However, she tries to focus on positive things she can do in Tanner's memory.

“I just don't want to become consumed by anger, because I don't want that for Tanner," Lund said. “He will not be forgotten. I won't let that happen."

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Tanner's death is one of 140 related to suspected impaired driving in Colorado this year.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) provided Denver7 with statistics they said depict a troubling trend.

  • 2019: 176 suspected impairment fatalities
  • 2020: 212 suspected impairment fatalities
  • 2021: 255 suspected impairment fatalities  

MADD also shared the figures they have collected to compare the last four years, which account for January through June of the following years:

  • 2019: 65 suspected impairment fatalities
  • 2020: 87 suspected impairment fatalities
  • 2021: 106 suspected impairment fatalities
  • 2022: 113 suspected impairment fatalities

MADD is a free resource for victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. Their helpline is answered 24/7 at 1-877-MADD-HELP.