A closer look into the fatal hit-and-run in Edwards
Longtime resident who witnessed the incident calls for more crosswalks and streetlights along Highway 6
Just over a week after a fatal hit-and-run in Edwards, a closer look revealed more information about the young man who lost his life and what happened to him that night.
On Saturday, Feb. 19, a 20-year-old man was running across U.S. Highway 6 towards the ECO Transit bus stop at Highway 6 and Bull Run Road in Edwards when he was hit by a car.
The man was transported to Vail Health Hospital, where he died of his injuries. His name was Valentin Cano, Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis confirmed Monday.
In a written statement, Vail Resorts “regretfully” confirmed that Cano, who lived in Edwards, worked for the company.
“Vail Mountain and the entire Vail Resorts family extend our deepest sympathy and support to Valentin Cano’s family and friends,” said Beth Howard, the vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain, in the statement.
More than a week later, Ilse Cervantes said she is still having nightmares from driving by the scene shortly after Cano was hit.
That night, Cervantes was driving westbound on Highway 6 with her family, she recalled. They were heading into the Riverwalk area to have dinner when they saw two people trying to cross the road to reach a third person, a woman, who was “screaming and crying hysterically,” Cervantes said.
The woman was screaming in Spanish and seemed distraught as a lone state trooper tried to console her and keep her away from a portion of the road. Cervantes, who is fluent in Spanish, pulled into the parking lot of the commercial strip near the scene to see if she could help translate.
It was then that she and her family saw Cano’s body lying in the street.
“He was completely lifeless,” she said. After realizing there was nothing they could do to help, “we said a prayer in hopes that his family is OK and that he is no longer in pain,” Cervantes said.
The car that struck Cano that night was driven by 18-year-old Joseph Roos of Edwards, who will face criminal charges for leaving the scene.
“The pedestrian was at a bus stop and then suddenly ran from south to north across the roadway and was struck by the vehicle,” Master Trooper Gary Cutler of the Colorado State Patrol said last week. “So the pedestrian was the at-fault person, but the vehicle did leave the scene and then later contacted us, and the driver of the vehicle was arrested for the hit-and-run resulting in death.”
First to arrive on scene that night was Trooper Bryan Herston with the Colorado State Patrol. The call came through at 7:14 p.m. and Herston arrived on scene shortly thereafter, according to his incident report from that night.
After initially leaving the scene, Roos, the driver, called 911 to report the incident to police upon arriving to his home in Edwards. Vail Dispatch received his call at 7:38 p.m.
Roos told Herston and members of the Avon Police Department that he initially thought he might have hit a deer that wandered into the road. After arriving home and examining the damage done to his vehicle, he then decided to call the police, according to the incident report.
Roos was arrested and booked into the Eagle County jail Saturday night, but has since bonded out.
Upon his arrest, Roos was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death, according to the incident report. He is set to appear in court Tuesday afternoon when the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office will advise him of the formal charges brought against him, which could differ from the arresting charge if any new information has come to light in the office’s preliminary investigation of the incident.
“It is a current and open investigation,” District Attorney Heidi McCollum said of the case against Roos. “My office continues to work with the Colorado State Patrol in this investigation.”
“Our condolences go out to the victim’s family,” McCollum said.
Cervantes, who grew up in Edwards, gave her condolences to Cano and his loved ones, but she also gave a call to action to the broader community.
“Every crosswalk should have lights,” she said in an interview Monday. “Perhaps we need to look into pedestrian bridges even because the tourism is not stopping, we’re getting more and more traffic, and more people that have to work here.”
Highway 6 is the main thoroughfare for one of ECO Transit’s two bus lines, which transport commuters and other riders up and down the valley. The main road is dotted with bus shelters and non-sheltered stops every few miles. And yet, much of Highway 6 is poorly lit and does not have the crosswalks and other safety features needed to support pedestrians in crossing the road safely at night, Cervantes said.
This is especially true in unincorporated areas like Edwards and EagleVail, she said.
“In high school, I had a girl friend who was crossing the street and was hit by a car at the main crosswalk (in Edwards) and shattered her femur and her hip,” Cervantes recalled.
Another friend of hers was struck by a vehicle in EagleVail in 2020 and broke a bone in his leg, she said.
And, of course, there is the story of Andrew Dolan, 46, who was hit by a car while crossing Highway 6 near the Highway 6 East/Stone Creek Drive bus stop in EagleVail. Dolan was hit on Dec. 5 of 2020 and died of his injuries on Dec. 27.
After witnessing the scene of Cano’s death, Cervantes said she expected to see people running around in a panic, but no one was talking about it.
“We knew that it was because it was so dark, nobody actually saw him,” she said. “As a driver, I didn’t see him until we turned around because it was that dark.”
The stop at Highway 6 and Bull Run Road does not have a crosswalk at the bus shelter, but there is a crosswalk with a yield sign just down the sidewalk. Still, the sidewalks often are not shoveled, leading commuters to cross outside of crosswalks when in a hurry. Drivers, also in a hurry, are not as careful as they should be, Cervantes said.
“People just need to be more aware,” she said.
Email Kelli Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org