Suspect in hit-and-run crash that killed UCCS freshman turns himself in

By: Ellie Mulder •
October 31, 2017• Updated: 31 minutes ago

A suspect in the hit-and-run crash that killed a freshman at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has turned himself in, police announced.

Vincent Fernando Garcia, 27, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide and accidents involving death or personal injuries, both felonies, and reckless driving and failure to report an accident, both misdemeanors, in the early Sunday crash.

UCCS student’s hit-and-run death raises questions about Austin Bluffs safety
Shortly before 12:30 a.m., Zachary S. Schlagel, 18, and two other people were crossing Austin Bluffs Parkway at Stanton Road when a truck heading east on Austin Bluffs hit two of them, police said. The driver fled, continuing east.

Police would not say whether the pedestrians were in a crosswalk.

Schlagel died of injuries sustained during the crash, police said. Another pedestrian had minor injuries.

Schlagel had graduated this year from Poudre High School in Fort Collins, where he was a varsity baseball player his senior year. Photos of Schlagel, a “teammate and friend,” were put up on the home page of the team’s website.
He was in his first semester as a pre-engineering student at UCCS and lived in campus housing. Police said he was from Windsor, but a university statement says he was from Severance, a nearby town.

“Please join me in expressing our sincerest condolences to Zach’s family, friends and classmates,” Chancellor Venkat Reddy said in the statement. “University officials are working closely to support Zach’s family, his roommates and others.”

The campus is working with police to investigate the hit-and-run.

“We are committed to the safety of our students,” the statement says. “Please know that UCCS works closely with the City of Colorado Springs. We will request the City’s Traffic Engineering Division to review the safe and efficient movement of vehicles and pedestrians on Austin Bluffs Parkway.”

Garcia is being held in El Paso County jail on $10,000 bond, inmate records show.

In September, he was cited with driving 25 to 39 mph over the speed limit, court records show. He is accused of harassment and third-degree assault, both misdemeanors, in July 2016 and carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, in December 2015, and is scheduled for a court appearances in both cases Nov. 20.

Earlier in 2015, he pleaded guilty to felony menacing in exchange for a deferred sentence, court records show. If he adheres to the terms of his probation, the offense will be wiped from his record.

Schlagel’s death was the city’s 31st traffic-related fatality this year, police said. At this time last year, the count was 28.

He was the eighth pedestrian killed so far this year. In all of 2016, seven pedestrians were killed in Colorado Springs.

Counseling services are available to UCCS students, faculty and staff by contacting the Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center at 255-4444.

Anyone with information on the hit-and-run is asked to contact police at 444-7000. To remain anonymous, call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 634-STOP (7867) or 1-800-222-8477.

Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198

Twitter: @lemarie