Police: Driver in fatal hit-and-run near UCCS was speeding, ran red light and had been drinking

By: Ellie Mulder

November 1, 2017 Updated: Today at 6:41 am

A 19-year-old UCCS student was in a crosswalk near the north Colorado Springs campus when he was fatally struck by a driver who was going nearly twice the speed limit, blew through a red light and had been drinking, according to arrest documents.

Vincent Fernando Garcia, 27, turned himself in Tuesday and was arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident involving death, both felonies, and reckless driving and failure to report an accident, both misdemeanors, court records show.

Garcia didn’t even slow down as he went through the red light and then drove off without stopping after the collision, a passenger in his truck told investigators.

Zachary Scott Schlagel, a freshman pre-engineering student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, was killed early Sunday when he was hit along with another pedestrian on Austin Bluffs Parkway by a tan Ford Bronco.

Schlagel and two others were crossing Austin Bluffs Parkway at Stanton Road when a truck heading east on Austin Bluffs hit two of them, police said. They were in a crosswalk with the walk signal illuminated, arrest documents show.

Garcia’s passenger, Briane Conway, told police Garcia had been drinking and was involved in a physical fight before he picked her up from the Tilted Kilt, where she works. The restaurant is at 7061 Commerce Center Drive, more than 3 miles from where the crash happened.

Garcia drove about 80 mph on Interstate 25, 15 mph over the 65 mph speed limit, exiting the interstate at East Garden of the Gods Road, which turns into Austin Bluffs Parkway, Conway told police. Garcia reportedly was driving up to 70 mph on Austin Bluffs Parkway in a 40 mph zone.

As they approached the intersection near UCCS, Conway said, she saw three people crossing the street, but “Garcia did not slow down,” the documents show. After the crash, “Garcia did not slow or stop the vehicle, despite her telling him to go back.”

Garcia left the truck near a Target store at 5240 N. Academy Blvd., about 3 miles from where the crash happened, the documents show. Garcia and Conway then drove to Garcia’s house – it’s unclear what vehicle they used – passing by the scene of the crash, where they saw Schlagel lying in the road surrounded by emergency personnel.

When they got to Garcia’s house, there was a disturbance between him and his mother, documents show. Police were called, and Garcia fled on foot.

Officers found the truck “with front end damage consistent with striking a pedestrian,” according to the arrest documents. The truck’s grill and left headlamp were damaged and appeared to match debris found at the scene of the crash.

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

Police initially said Schlagel was 18 years old, but according to the El Paso County Coroner’s Office and his obituary he was 19.

Schlagel graduated this year from Poudre High School, where he played on the varsity baseball team. He enjoyed competing in sports, making music, hanging out with friends and enjoying the outdoors, especially boating at Lake Glendo in Wyoming, “where many memories were made,” his obituary says.

“We are committed to the safety of our students,” UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy said in a statement. “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.”