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5 Questions for Steven Johnson

You recently lost your son, Jake, in a tragic hit and run accident.  Tell us about what made him so special?

Jake was our gentle giant. He was 6′-4″ and incredibly fit, yet the most humble, kind, loving, compassionate, thoughtful person I have ever known. He was the best of all of us. Jake came into his stride when he married his Ivy, she was the love of his life and she completed him. Jake passionately loved music, his San Francisco Forty Niners and all his family, friends and of course his dog Montana! Jake was working a fulltime job while also working 30 plus hours at Domino’s pizza delivering pizzas. He and Ivy’s goal was to get ahead in life. We all had pressured Jake to quit his part time job at Dominoes and on Friday July 29th he called me and said he turned in his 2-week notice with a laugh. I asked what was funny and he said they asked for 3-weeks! I said Jake – tell me you did not agree to 3-weeks? He said they had so many drivers off the 3rd week he felt bad so he agreed to help them. That was Jake. He lost his life on that shift. 


Can you describe what it was like for you and your family when you first got the news that it was a hit and run?

We received the 1st call at 2AM Saturday July 30th and we were told he was involved in an accident, but they were trying to figure out what hospital he was taken to. We knew this couldn’t be good if he couldn’t call us on his own. My wife Michele and I quickly got dressed and then the 2nd call came. There is a song with lyrics that state we’re all a phone call away from our knees. My wife collapsed to the floor. In complete disbelief we gathered ourselves and went to Denver to be with Ivy and family. The news about the hit and run came later in the morning. It was unclear how many people were in the car, but we were told two were injured and taken to the hospital. My wife was worried about them and prayed for them. I was pretty angry and not proud to admit I was not concerned for any of them. My son had been taken from me. He was my “ROCK” and finding compassion for those who took him from me was not available at the time.  


The hit and run driver was on probation for another crime and was moving through the courts for other violations.  How do you feel knowing this?

This is the most frustrating part. Taylor had just been convicted of a very serious crime and sentenced to 8-years, but they gave him 4-years of probation. Had he served one year and let out on good behavior pending probation I wouldn’t be answering these questions. Then came the second crime in Adams County, which would have violated his probation, and had the legal system reacted as they should Jake would still be here. It seems as if the legal system is too focused on protecting criminals from their earned punishments rather than helping them to become better citizens. And the good guy simply delivering a pizza to get ahead in life has his life taken from him. 


You said Jake would want you to be a humanitarian.  How do you bring humanity to the process when you see the man in court?

Great question. I could feel Jake’s hand on my shoulders when we were at the arraignment. He was telling me to be kind and calm dad. Jake expected me to be the bigger person. Turn the other cheek. That is who he was. I have to be strong for Jake.  

Hit and runs are on the rise in Denver. What do you want the people of Denver to know so that Jake’s death is not in vain? 

I was very shocked to find how rampant these street racers are. I am in no way saying people shouldn’t love their cars but taking to the streets and racing in and out of traffic risking innocent lives for the adrenaline rush and thrill of taking chances is unconscionable. In many cases drugs and alcohol – liquid courage is involved and all of this should be outlawed and those who put innocent lives at risk should be punished swiftly and with severe consequences. The humanitarian in me is not just focused on punishing people who commit crimes. I want to create community awareness and even help these clubs find structure and leadership to insure they can enjoy their passion of cars, but safely. I plan to start a Foundation in Jake’s name and find a way to make a difference. We have an Amber alert, why can’t we have a “Jake” alert so law abiding citizens can call in when they see someone racing illegally. We can’t sit back and let this happen to another family. Jake would expect me to do something to make an impact. If we save one human being Jake won’t die in vain.  

I have 4 goals:

  1. Take care of Ivy – we have a go fund me account going now – Jake did not have life insurance – Ivy lost 50% of the household income
  2. Participate in the court system to support justice and ensure Taylor is punished to the full extent of the law
  3. Impact change through community awareness and legislation and to hopefully help these good clubs find safe ways to enjoy their passions
  4. Impact change for delivery people (Dominoes-Pizza Hut-Grub Hub) these folks deserve to be treated better and the companies should review workhours/safety and proper insurance to protect them
Written by

Vicky Collins is a freelance television producer and journalist based in Denver, Colorado with a diverse portfolio of projects that include network news, cable programming, Olympic sports, corporate and non-profit videos. Some of her most satisfying assignments have been covering disasters, working in the slums of developing countries and telling stories of people who show great courage in the face of adversity. She has been in all 50 states and on six continents and many of her television stories and photos are posted on her website at www.teletrendstv.com. To contact Vicky Collins directly email vicky@teletrendstv.com or tweet @vickycollins.

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