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Lakewood woman dies after she was struck by car in 24 Hour Fitness gym parking lot

Katee Pearce, 36, died after she was struck by a car in the 24 Hour Fitness Gym parking lot
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Posted at 4:13 PM, Mar 11, 2023
and last updated 2024-03-07 12:07:53-05

UPDATE, March 7, 2024 — Eric Whittenburg took a plea deal and was sentenced to 288 days of community service, unsupervised probation for one year with no driving and three days in jail. During the sentencing hearing on March 7, loved ones of Katee Pearce spoke, as did Whittenburg and his wife.

Both parties explained the heartache and pain since the crash. Whittenburg said as a father himself, he could not fathom the grief of Katee's family and feels remorse every day. Pearce's family spoke about their daughter and sister, and the people read aloud a letter from an organ donor organization.

The defense said the Whittenburgs did not want to prolong the situation and put the family through a trial, which is why Whittenburg took the plea deal.

Pearce was never found at fault, and Whittenburg was not sleepy, on his phone or impaired at the time of the crash, the parties said. The defense noted a massive blind spot in Whittenburg's Toyota truck.

As the judge started the sentencing, he choked up and apologized before leaving his chair for a few moments, saying "Everybody is allowed to be human." When he returned, he told both parties that they were good people. He sentenced the defendant to 288 hours of community service — with at least 90 hours with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) — one year of unsupervised probation (no driving) and three days in jail.

UPDATE | June 2, 2023 — Eric Whittenburg, the suspect in a crash that ended with the death of 36-year-old Katee Pearce, pleaded not guilty to the charge against him on June 1.

UPDATE | May 10, 2023 — The suspect in this fatal crash was identified as Eric Whittenburg, according to the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office. He is set for arraignment on June 1. According to the Lakewood Police Department, he was cited for careless driving resulting in death.


LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Loved ones are coping with the sudden and tragic loss of a Colorado woman who died after being struck by a car in a gym parking lot in Lakewood earlier this week.

Family members said Katee Pearce, 36, was struck by a vehicle while she was leaving the 24 Hour Fitness gym and walking to her car in Lakewood on the afternoon of Monday, Mar. 6.

She was rushed to the hospital and died from her injuries on Wednesday.

“One minute, you know, we're at home, and we're enjoying our life, and you get this phone call," said Pearce's godfather Joe Soto, who has known her all her life. “It just devastates you. This was a tragic incident. She was just walking out of the gym. She was in the crosswalk. It just happened so quickly."

Lakewood police said it is still an active investigation and it's unclear what charges the driver will face.

Lakewood woman dies after she was struck by car in 24 Hour Fitness gym parking lot

“This is the hardest thing I've ever been through. We don't have our own children. So she was our daughter," Soto said.

Relatives describe Pearce as someone who was fun and charming. She loved people, her dog, horses and country music.

"Katee loved Colorado. She's a Colorado native. She grew up right down the street from Lakewood High School. She went to Lakewood High School. She was a prom queen, everybody just loved her" Soto said.

Her loved ones are hoping this will be a wake-up call to remind others about the importance of watching out for pedestrians and being careful in parking lots.

"If people would just slow down and be aware of their surroundings, you don't have to be in a rush," he said.

Even in her death, loved ones say Pearce continues helping others.

"She was an organ donor, and she had the walk of honor the other night at the hospital. That's the kind of person she was. Katee was that way," Soto said.

Her family said Pearce's organs will help save at least two other lives.

Friends and family plan to host a candlelight celebration of life at the 24 Hour Fitness in Lakewood off of Alameda on Saturday at 6 p.m.

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