DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver chef’s life has been turned upside down after a hit-and-run crash this summer. It’s a situation that is happening to more and more people. 

According to the Denver Police Department, there have been 5,436 hit-and-run crashes as of Oct. 21 this year. That compares to 5,351 in 2022 and 5,398 in 2021 for the same time.

One day, one trip down the road can be just enough time to change everything.

Chef Harold Hutchins is living proof of that notion. He and his wife finally got to live out his dream: The chef of 25 years opened his own breakfast spot, NewEats, earlier this year.

“Things were amazing,” Hutchins said. “We had pancakes, waffles, a breakfast burger. Everything was from scratch, day-of service every day, and I lost it all.”

On June 17, a ride down the road to Walmart to get diapers for his two babies took a terrible turn where Mississippi Avenue meets Alton Court.

“The car right beside me just veered into me,” Hutchins said. “His front left side bumper busted the complete axle. My car was inoperable.”

Recovery a challenge after hit-and-run crash

Hutchins said the driver that hit him took off, but not before witnesses got pictures of the license plate. Even with that, Hutchins said the police have not been able to track down and hold the driver accountable.

“I don’t have a car,” Hutchins said. “I paid insurance for months, and I couldn’t get anything.”

Hutchins’ limited liability insurance left him in a bind, especially with medical bills.

“They found six tears on my spine,” he said. “I have multiple herniations in my neck as well as my back. I have a flattened nerve as well as nerve damage and pinched nerves, and my rotator cuff is torn.”

Even with Medicaid, Hutchins said physical therapy will be $45 a visit.

“It’s really hard,” Hutchins said. “I fight tears all the time, and it’s mainly the pain, but it’s just me being a strong-willed individual that wants to get up and go work. I want to run a restaurant. I want to do these things, and I can’t.”

Hutchins started a T-shirt company as he fights to heal and raise money to reopen his restaurant. He also has a GoFundMe set up to help during these hard times.