By Clair McFarland, General Assignment Reporter
A former Wyoming Highway Patrolman is criticizing the agency for not releasing the name of a driver involved in a hit-and-run that severely injured a woman six weeks ago.
The pedestrian victim, Andrea Griffin, sustained three skull fractures, cheek fractures, facial lacerations, a hip replacement, left-arm injuries repaired by two plates and 28 screws, and a broken wrist and elbow, the Torrington Telegram reported.
The driver has not been publicly identified.
Roger Huckfeldt, a former Wyoming Highway Patrol agent and former state legislator, has criticized the delay, telling Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that he finds the delay dubious.
“I’ve been trying to find out why the name wasn’t released,” Huckfeldt wrote in a public post to his Facebook page, noting that Griffin had been his classmate, though he didn’t identify her by name.
“If this (driver) has so little regard for the well-being of an other (sic) as to flee from the scene after hitting someone with their vehicle, they have shown themselves to be a serious danger to the rest of society,” said Huckfeldt.
‘The Longer It’s Withheld’
Huckfeldt said it was his experience in the Highway Patrol that if someone hadn’t been arrested or charged, their name wasn’t released.
Huckfeldt was told before he authored the Nov. 10 post, however, that the agency’s investigation was complete. He expressed confusion as to why the public had not heard of charges – or a name.
“The reason to hide their name is no longer an issue,” said Huckfeldt. “And the longer it’s withheld, the more damage it does to law enforcement’s reputation and jeopardizes the safety of the public.”
No Arrest, No ID
The Wyoming Highway Patrol told Cowboy State Daily the agency is unable to identify the driver publicly because he was not arrested or charged. WHP completed its investigation in November, however, and forwarded its report to the Goshen County Attorney’s office for possible criminal charges, the department said.
Goshen County Attorney Eric Boyer’s office did not respond by publication time to multiple requests for comment.
Though Torrington Police Department officials were on scene initially, the department handed the case over to the Highway Patrol because the driver is an immediate family member – though not a child – of a Torrington police officer, according to Highway Patrol Lt. Andy Frye.
“They (Torrington PD) didn’t want any allusion of not being thorough, or some sort of favoritism, or any of that playing in,” said Frye.
Frye said from his last update with Griffin’s family, she is “alive and making progress in a good direction,” though “severely injured.”
Sgt. Jeremy Beck, Wyoming Highway Patrol public information officer, said the agency “can’t” release the name of a suspect who hasn’t been arrested. And the driver hasn’t been arrested – “not yet,” said Beck.
Both Beck and Frye declined to tell Cowboy State Daily which charges the department recommended to the Goshen County Attorney’s office.
Beck said weekslong investigations into hit-and-run incidents do happen.
“This is something that does take a little bit of time,” he said, citing multiple witness interviews and follow-ups. Beck said there also can be a delay between the department’s submission of its report to the county attorney and a prosecutor from that office filing formal charges.
Beck asked concerned Wyomingites to be patient, saying he’ll dispatch a press release with the driver’s name as soon as the suspect is charged.
“I understand that folks are wanting the information. Please be patient,” he said.