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Man seriously hurt, two dogs killed in hit-and-run in SW Denver

Joe Gonzales was crossing the street with his two dogs when he was knocked unconscious by a motorbike, according to his daughter.
Posted at 9:55 AM, Jan 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-21 12:11:26-05

DENVER — The search is on for a biker who seriously hurt a man and killed his two dogs in a hit-and-run in southwest Denver.

Witnesses said the man was crossing the street when a speeding motorbike knocked him unconscious while he was holding his dogs' leashes in his hand.

Monique Fair said it was a walk through the neighborhood her father, 69-year-old Joe Gonzales, had taken thousands of times. One he loved to share with his two 12-pound rescue pups twice a day. It was something he had done for years.

“He strongly believes that adopting a dog and offering it the best life can fill everybody with joy,” said Fair.

But on Dec. 30, all that changed.

“I got a call from the hospital, and they said, ‘Your dad has been in an accident.’ And in my head, I think everybody thinks it's an accident. It's not life-threatening. And I asked, ‘Is he okay?’ And they said ‘No.’ And I melted,” Fair said.

A nearby homeowner’s video doorbell captured first responders arriving at the intersection of West Florida Ave. and South Xavier St. to help Gonzales, who was seriously injured.

Denver police say a dark-colored motorbike -- possibly a dirt bike -- hit him and drove off.

Before medics arrived to help, Erick Perez, was one of the first people on scene.

Man seriously hurt, two dogs killed in hit-and-run in SW Denver

“I ran to the guy and he immediately asked me, ‘Hey how’s my dogs?’ And I told him one’s already gone and the other one’s still coherent. It was pretty cold out so I put an old sweater I had back in the car over the dog and then waited there until the ambulance arrived,” explained Perez.

Sadly, both of Gonzales' dogs passed away after being hit by the motorbike.

Gonzales spent three weeks at Denver Health after suffering multiple broken bones, internal bleeding and severely damaged lungs.

“The first 12 days were terrifying because there was a chance my dad was not going to make it. And that chance happened daily,” said Fair.

Now Gonzales is at a rehab center in Lakewood where therapy dogs brighten his day.

“He’s still grieving those dogs. This incident, emotionally, physically and mentally has shifted my father,” said Fair.

The driver of the motorbike still hasn't been caught.

While Fair said that person stole so much from her father, she and others are holding onto hope for justice.

“For as angry as I get, as angry as I can be for somebody who did something bad, so many other people showed, including my dad, great qualities,” said Fair.

If you have any information on the driver of the dark-colored motorbike, possibly with front-end damage, Metro Denver Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $2,000.

The family has started a GoFundMe to help with Gonzales’ medical expenses.

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