Suspect said he dozed off before jogger was hit

Posted at 1:03 PM, Oct 02, 2015

A hit-and-run suspect told Douglas County investigators that he dozed off at the wheel before he allegedly hit a jogger, leaving the critically injured woman lying on the roadside with a nearly severed leg early Tuesday, court records state.

Markus Lide, 32, said he was driving on South University Boulevard near Crossland Way before sunrise when something "jarred me awake," according to an arrest affidavit. He said he thought that he had hit something but did not know what. He stopped his car in the middle of the road, got out and found he had a broken side mirror and headlight.

Lide told investigators "he did not know at the time that he hit someone but knew that he hit something. He stated that…he believes that he hit the woman, but does not remember hitting her," according to the affidavit.

The man said he looked around in the illumination of a street light, but did not see any debris in the roadway or anything he might have hit. He drove to his Highlands Ranch home, parked his car in the garage and went to sleep.

Meanwhile, sheriff's deputies had responded to the hit-and-run scene, where they found the badly injured jogger, Tina Benner, lying bleeding in the weeds on the side of South University Boulevard. Benner had been running in preparation for the Denver Rock 'n' Roll marathon.

"It was reported that the victim's leg was almost amputated off, but was still attached," a deputy wrote in the affidavit. She was transported to Littleton Adventist Hospital and then, because of the severity of her injuries, she was taken by helicopter to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood.

At the time, a doctor completed a form, checking boxes stating that Benner faced a "substantial risk of death," after suffering injures that included a crushed pelvis, a severed artery in her leg, a torn aorta and trauma to her neck, the affidavit said.

Tire scuff marks on the curb of South University lead investigators to suspect that the car went up on the sidewalk and hit Benner as she jogged in the predawn darkness, the affidavit states.

Investigators found car debris scattered along the north side of South University, including large pieces of a broken side mirror, a broken red mirror cover and a headlight assembly. Deputies took the parts to nearby car dealerships, where an investigator found the mirror cover "appeared to perfectly match" an Infiniti G37X parked at one dealership, the affidavit states.

On Wednesday morning, Lide was taking a shower when his wife told him about a news report of a woman being hit by a car near South University and Crossland. He told her about what happened the previous night.

They drove to the hit-and-run scene and Lide recognized this was where he thought he'd "hit something" early Tuesday morning. He began crying. She calmed him down and Lide's father-in-law referred him to an attorney, Craig Truman.

On Wednesday afternoon, Truman called sheriff's investigators and had them meet Lide at his law office. Lide waived his right to remain silent and gave a statement, the affidavit states.  

The commercial truck driver said the crash happened when he returned to Colorado from a trip to Portland, where he'd picked up a load of vehicles. He dropped off his tractor-trailer at a Littleton truck terminal and drove his red 2010 Infiniti G37X to a friend's apartment.

Lide said he smokes marijuana concentrate -- or hash -- every other day and usually every night to help him sleep, but he told investigators that he did not smoke pot, drink alcohol or use any illicit drugs while visiting with his friend. He left his friend's house before sunrise, and drover toward home.

Then he hit something on the road -- and his and Benner's lives were forever changed.

He was arrested on investigation of leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury, careless driving, tampering with physical evidence and failing to notify police of an accident. He was released from jail Thursday on $50,000 bond.

7NEWS was at Lide's home on Stonebrush Drive when he arrived home in a car Thursday afternoon and went inside without making any comment. He lives there with his wife and their son.

--Neighbor calls suspect 'one of the nicest people'--

"Markus is one of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. If I need anything done for any reason he would be right there," said neighbor Carol R. Anderson, who's known Lide and his family for a decade.

Speaking of the hit-and-run, Anderson said, "It was a terrible, terrible thing what happened, but mistakes happen. I just feel so bad for the whole family, and I feel bad for the girl that he hit."

"That's not like [Markus]," the neighbor told 7NEWS reporter Jennifer Kovaleski. "He's kind of a high strung person who gets upset easily, so I think in that instance he panicked."

She said investigators were at Lide's home Wednesday, gathering evidence.

"All the police were sitting in my driveway and I'm saying, 'What's going on?" I was shocked to hear it," Anderson said. "I saw them taking about 1,000 and 100 pictures and then they dragged the car out of the garage."