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WELD COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – A 24-year-old sheriff’s deputy was killed Sunday in a hit-and-run crash by a person living in the country illegally, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office said.

“It is with a heavy heart I announce today the victim of yesterday’s fatal hit-and-run crash north of Greeley was Weld County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Alexis Hein-Nutz,” a statement from Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said.

“Alexis was hired in November 2018 and assigned to the Weld County Jail where she served as a detentions deputy. She joined our ranks at the age of 21. Alexis was born in Bismarck, N.D. It was a childhood dream to someday serve others as a peace officer.”

Colorado State Patrol is leading the investigation into the circumstances of the crash, assisted by the Weld County Sheriff’s Office.

“The 24-year-old female on the motorcycle was declared deceased on scene, then we learned she was a Weld County deputy. Our condolences go out to them,” Joshua Lewis with CSP said.

Officers confirmed the driver of the vehicle was Octavio Gonzalez-Garcia. He is 37 or 38 years old and residing in the U.S. illegally, according to evidence found of an apparently falsified Green Card and fake Social Security Card recovered from his car.

The deputy was riding her personal motorcycle to work when the crash happened, Reams said.

“Right after the crash, the driver of the Ford van didn’t remain on scene as required and fled on foot,” Lewis said. 

Gonzalez-Garcia apparently hid in a cornfield nearby, officials said. He has so far eluded officers.

“We ask the public to join us in celebrating Alexis’ life, but we also ask for your help. Gonzalez-Garcia is on the run, and we need your information to catch him,” Reams said. “We’re asking residents in the Colo. 392 corridor, from the site of the crash at AA Street and Weld County Road 37 west to Weld Road 29 and north to Weld Road 72, to check your security cameras for footage of any suspicious people between the hours of 5:30 p.m. Sunday and 2 a.m. this morning.”

The suspect is described as a slightly heavy-set Latino man in his 40s, and stands about 5 feet, 7 inches tall. He was last seen wearing a dark blue shirt, blue jeans and white shoes.

“We do believe the driver of the van was under the influence at the time, there is evidence to support that,” Lewis said. 

The sheriff also said that in December 2018, one month after graduating from the Weld County Jail Academy, the deputy posted this announcement to her Facebook profile, “After many years of dreaming of being in law enforcement, I can finally say I am officially following my dreams. This is only the first stepping-stone to a brighter future. Here is to a better life and doing what I was meant to do.”

“Alexis was a hard worker, a caring deputy and a positive force for our agency,” Reams said. “I share in my deputies’ grief and in their anger over her senseless and tragic passing. But we are a family, and we will get through this painful event together.”

Anyone with any information about this investigation is urged to call Colorado State Patrol investigators at (303) 239-4501. Reference case # 3A221639. Callers can choose to remain anonymous.

“We need that information to find this individual to make sure justice is served,” Lewis said.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at Email: Phone: 970-400-2802 Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Editor’s note: Weld County Sheriff’s Office originally reported the deputy’s age as 23 years old and has since corrected it to 24 years old.