Adams County hit-and-run investigation delayed by jurisdictional nightmare

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. -- A 12-year-old boy in Adams County is recovering after being hit by a vehicle and seriously injured on Tuesday.

Gaven Starbuck was released from a hospital on Wednesday morning. About the same time, his family was left wondering why law enforcement had not launched an investigation.

Representatives of the Westminster Police Department, Adams County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado State Patrol described a jurisdictional nightmare.

Gaven was riding his bike on Tuesday in a residential neighborhood near Oakwood Street and Wagner Drive, near Westminster, when he was struck by a vehicle.

“Facial fractures, lots of road rash, broken arm -- possible surgeries,” Gaven’s aunt, Krista Welter, said.

Gaven will still feel the pain of his injuries as he turns 13 later this month. His mom, Sarah Starbuck, says her heart sank when a stranger called her about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday from Gaven’s cellphone.

“I heard a little bit of moaning and then it started being hysterical screaming in the background and knew my son was severely injured,” she said.

Gaven was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Sarah Starbuck said Adams County sheriff’s deputies were on scene in a small unincorporated pocket of the county that is surrounded by Westminster.

The sheriff’s office says it leans on the Colorado State Patrol to investigate collisions within the county’s jurisdiction. But troopers were not notified, according to a state patrol spokesman.

“It was, call Westminster ... then Westminster told me, call Adams County. Adams County told me, call state patrol. State patrol told me to call Westminster,” Sarah Starbuck said.

A spokesman for the sheriff's office admits something went wrong. The sheriff’s office describes the mess as a breakdown in communication and jurisdictional confusion between dispatchers and officers.

The sheriff’s office promised to work with the boy’s family and state patrol to make sure the hit-and-run will be investigated.

Troopers responded to the location just before 9 p.m. Wednesday to start an investigation.

Gaven was knocked out during the collision and doesn’t remember what happened. No witnesses have come forward.

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