Police arrest suspect accused of fleeing drug deal, causing fatal wreck

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Latoya Nelson (Photo: Denver Police Department)

Latoya Nelson (Photo: Denver Police Department)

DENVER -- Sources say a busted drug deal at the Burger King on Colfax Avenue and Kalamath Street ended with a deadly hit-and- run accident, just down the street.

On Thursday morning, the Denver Police Department tweeted that the woman who they believe caused the fatal wreck was in custody. Later in the morning, police revealed that woman is 30-year-old Latoya Nelson.

Court records now show Nelson was booked into Denver jail around midnight on vehicular homicide involving reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident involving death. Police said they found Nelson during a routine traffic stop at 31st and California streets.

A security guard allegedly spotted Nelson in a red Pontiac selling marijuana to a man in the parking lot just before 5 p.m. Wednesday. When he approached her, Nelson took off -- speeding down Kalamath.

"The red car was just shooting southbound," said Ricardo Segura, who witnessed the accident.

Witnesses say Nelson sped through a red light and slammed into another car crossing the intersection at 13th Avenue.  Her car spiraled onto the sidewalk.

"(The other driver) wasn't expecting it at all. She pushed him halfway up the block," said Segura.

Another witness, Nathan Martin , says she helped Nelson and the driver she hit -- an elderly man who police have now identified as Charlie Herrera, 85 -- out of their cars.

Martin says that he asked Herrera his name. At that point in time, Herrera began having trouble breathing, and later died while on the way to the hospital.

Witnesses say Nelson took off on foot.

Nelson appeared in a Denver courtroom Thursday morning wearing a neck brace.

Outside the courtroom, her mother, Deborah Nelson, fought back tears saying she was "devastated" and "terrified of what she did."

Deborah Nelson said Latoya was studying to become a hairstylist and was living with her boyfriend -- whom the mother blamed for getting Latoya involved with drugs.

"I raised her as a good person," Deborah Nelson said. "It's just that when you run around with the wrong persons, you get in trouble."

Latoya's sister, Sahvannh Nelson, was also at the courthouse and said she was scared for her sister.

"My sister is going to lose her life over something so stupid," she said.

Both family members offered their condolences for Herrera's family. Herrera's family had no comment when asked Thursday morning. Family members said they want to grieve in private.

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