Authorities are continuing to investigate the circumstances under which a man fell from a vehicle on U.S. Highway 6 east of Silt June 27, suffering fatal injuries.
Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire said in a news release Thursday that Frankie Olmedo, 23, of New Castle, was pronounced dead the following day at St. Mary's Medical Center in Grand Junction. An autopsy has been performed, but the cause and manner haven't yet been determined "pending further inquiry by the coroner's office and investigation by the Colorado State Patrol into the circumstances of the incident," Glassmire said.
State Patrol Trooper Gary Cutler said investigators have been interviewing witnesses and also are looking for video footage that might shed light on the incident. While there was some initial thought that Olmedo may have been the pedestrian victim of a hit-and-run, Cutler said authorities believe he fell from a vehicle and are still trying to determine how and why that happened.
North Carolina resident Colleen Petatan, who is married to Olmedo's cousin, said she was contacted by a woman who said she is the mother of someone else who was in the car, and said Olmedo jumped from the vehicle. Petatan said she doesn't think Olmedo voluntarily jumped from a car going 55 mph.
"I don't know what was going on in that car but her version doesn't make sense to me," Petatan said.
Petatan believes Olmedo may have been pushed from the vehicle or jumped because he felt threatened.
She said she had never heard of any of the people who were in the car. While the woman she spoke to described her son and Olmedo as best friends, Petatan doubts that because the two weren't friends on social media.
She also said the vehicle and its occupants left the scene after the incident.
"If your supposed friend jumps out of the car, you're not going to leave them," Petatan said.
Marcia Villarreal, who drove up on the scene shortly after the incident happened, said she spoke to a woman who saw some of what occurred.
"She said she just basically saw someone in her words rag-dolling down the road," Villarreal said.
Villarreal said the witness didn't know if the person had jumped from the car or been hit by it, but said the car left the scene.
Petatan said she knew Olmedo for nine years. She described him as having been quiet, and also "always nice and friendly."
She said he grew up in North Carolina and moved last year to Colorado.
He had relatives including his parents living in the area, and worked in construction.
She said his dad said he was off of work the day of the incident.