Driver pleads guilty in hit-and-run that killed UCCS student

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By: Liz Forster May 8, 2018

Vincent Fernando Garcia
Vincent Fernando Garcia

A 27-year-old man pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing a freshman in a hit-and-run crash at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Vincent Fernando Garcia acknowledged he was guilty of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident involving death, both felonies. He pleaded not guilty to reckless driving and failure to stop at a red light.

His sentencing is scheduled for July 27.

Shortly before 12:30 a.m. Oct. 29, Zachary S. Schlagel, 19, and two other people were crossing Austin Bluffs Parkway at Stanton Road when Garcia, driving east on Austin Bluffs, hit two of them, police said. Garcia fled, continuing east.

Schlagel died of injuries sustained during the crash, police said. The other pedestrian sustained only minor injuries.

In another case, Garcia was cited with driving 25 to 39 mph over the speed limit last September, court records show. He also was 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.

Schlagel had graduated in 2017 from Poudre High School in Fort Collins, where he was a varsity baseball player his senior year. 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.