Woman left for dead in Breckenridge snowbank; police search for hit-and-run suspect
CAN YOU HELP?
Breckenridge Police Department wants anyone with information that could help identify a vehicle or suspect to contact detective Alex Blank at 970-547-3376.
At St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, Laura Hamilton met with a doctor Monday afternoon to talk about the impacts of her brain injury. Then she did physical therapy.
The 23-year-old was recovering from a hit-and-run three days earlier that left her with a concussion, whiplash, three fractured vertebrae in her lower back, a fractured femur and a deep gash on her left thigh.
At 10:45 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 26, Hamilton was walking to her apartment on a sidewalk along Airport Road in Breckenridge north of City Market when she texted a friend to pick her up. She remembers little after that.
A snowplow driver saw her lying facedown partly in the northbound lane of Airport Road across from Pinewood Village Apartments and partly in the snowbank.
The driver pulled over around the same time Hamilton’s friend arrived, she said, and they called for help.
At 11:25 p.m., Red, White and Blue Fire Rescue received the emergency call, and medical personnel arrived on scene eight minutes later.
Hamilton later talked to the driver of the ambulance who told her she was sitting up and awake, though Hamilton thought she was unconscious until Saturday morning.
First responders put layers of stitches in the wound that wrapped around her upper leg that was about 5 inches wide and 4 inches deep, Hamilton said. They lost count of the number of stitches.
“That’s the only thing that I actually do remember was looking down and thinking that my leg was bitten by a shark,” said Hamilton, a Vail Resorts employee at Breck Sports on Peak 8.
She also received stitches on her chin, she said.
Breckenridge police chief Shannon Haynes said officers are investigating the hit-and-run. She said rumors circulating online about specific vehicles are probably not true.
“We don’t have enough info to start pointing fingers like that yet,” Haynes said.
Monday morning she said police were analyzing footage from public Summit Stage buses as well as nearby private security cameras. Later in the day, the police department released more details and declined to speculate on criminal charges a suspect could face.
The suspect’s vehicle is a dark grey or slate color and was likely heading north on Airport Road from Park Avenue. Anyone with information that could help identify a vehicle or suspect should contact detective Alex Blank at 970-547-3376.
“We are trying to find this person,” said Jasmine Koster, 21, a friend.
Koster wants to plan a rail jam fundraiser event for Hamilton, who moved from South Carolina to Breckenridge at the start of ski season to snowboard.
“A lot of people in town are looking out,” said Chris Stern, 25, another friend. “It’s just so messed up.”
Hamilton said she might be discharged from the hospital Monday.
Contrary to some rumors, spokeswoman Erin McGinnis said St. Anthony Summit Medical Center would never release a patient who needed more hospital care.
“A patient’s care is never based on one’s ability to pay or not pay,” she said.
Instead of returning to her third-floor apartment, Hamilton planned to stay with friends until she can walk better.
Family friend Kim Organ said she was trying to help Hamilton’s mother in South Carolina find money for a flight to see her daughter.
Organ set up a donation account and said people can donate in Hamilton’s name at any Wells Fargo branch. Funds raised will go toward Hamilton’s medical and living expenses as well as travel expenses for Hamilton’s mom, Organ said.
“It’s a mess, and it’s a tragedy,” Organ said.
Hamilton said drivers should remember no matter how short a distance they are going, they can still kill or hurt someone.
“If it was a drunk driver, they have free buses for a reason,” she said, “This is no way that I want to start my New Year.”
She said doctors told her she should be mostly recovered in four to six weeks, and she hopes to be on the slopes again in February.
“I won’t let this put me back,” she said. “I’m pretty tough, and I plan on making the most of this.”