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Jenna Breen's hit-and-run death: New info in case of three-time DUI offender

jenna breen cropped.jpg
Big photos below.
Update:There have been some new developments in the tragic story of Jenna Breen, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident with Viet Nguyen, a man with three previous DUI arrests. Below, get more information about the search for possible witnesses (or perhaps additional suspects), a fund in Jenna's name, a memorial service and the reason Nguyen's passenger at the time of the crash hasn't been identified.

Via e-mail, Breen family friend Larry Feyerherm points out that the Justice For Jenna Facebook page has now registered over 1,000 likes -- evidence of Jenna's impact on friends and family, as well as support for the site's original cause. Feyerherm launched it with the blessing of Jenna's mom, Gail Parrish, in part to demand higher bail for Nguyen, and bond was subsequently upped to $250,000.

In addition, Feyerherm notes that "a Justice for Jenna Memorial fund has been set up with TCF banks. People can donate at any TCF bank in Colorado."

Formal charges are expected to be filed against Nguyen in Adams County Court at 1:30 p.m. today. Feyerherm adds that "a white car was seen following the driver and his passenger as they fled the scene, observed by a Kohls security camera." No telling at this point if this was coincidence, or if those in the white vehicle had a connection with Nguyen, but "the police would really like to talk to these people," he stresses.

"Many people are wondering why the passenger has not been identified," he continues. "Apparently, there is no requirement of passengers to report a crime, stay at the scene of an accident, render aid to the injured parties. There are no penalties for passengers that flee the scene of an accident. I bet many of your readers do not know that. That doesn't seem right."

Finally, a memorial service for Jenna has been scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, January 28, at Crown Hill mortuary chapel, 7777 West 29th Avenue in Wheat Ridge. See the Justice for Jenna Facebook page for more details, and look below to read our earlier coverage.

Original item, 1:34 p.m. January 17: Early Saturday morning, Jenna Breen, 21, was killed in a hit-and-run crash. The man charged in the incident -- Viet Nguyen, 25 -- has three previous DUIs on his record, yet reports of his initial bond were so low that Breen's loved ones set up a Justice for Jenna Facebook page to protest it. Now, the DA's office in question has apparently reached the same conclusion.

Breen family friend Larry Feyerherm launched the page with the blessing of her mother, Gail Parrish. "She's shattered, as you can imagine," he says. "That was her only daughter, and she was only 21. Words can't describe how the family feels. They're completely devastated by this."

Just past 3 a.m. on Saturday morning, Breen was reportedly returning home after wrapping up the late shift at her waitressing job when her vehicle was struck near the intersection of 118th Place and Sheridan Boulevard. She was ejected from the car and died at the scene.

Nguyen, the man driving the other car in the crash, allegedly scampered from the vehicle on foot, joined in flight by a companion. But neither of them got far. With assistance from a canine unit, Westminster police found Nguyen hiding behind a bush. Meanwhile, officers from Broomfield cornered the thus-far-unidentified passenger.

This wasn't Nguyen's first opportunity to enjoy the dubious pleasures of police custody. As 9News notes in the piece linked above, he also sports convictions for numerous drug crimes, plus theft, receiving stolen property and more. But more pertinent to Breen's family are his three DUI arrests in the past six years, with the most recent one resulting in the revocation of his drivers license.

tim albo photo cropped.JPG
Tim Albo.
"What was this guy doing behind the wheel?" Feyerherm asks. "And to make things even worse, the driver and the passenger left Jenna bleeding on the pavement rather than giving aid or calling the police."

Such behavior by DUI drivers is hardly unusual, as noted by Jennifer Albo in a June 2011 post. Jennifer's brother Tim was severely injured in a hit and run, and she believes Colorado law actually encourages drunk drivers to split under such circumstances.

"Nobody is going to stick around to turn themselves in and help injured people as long as the laws say it's better to leave the scene of the accident and avoid any kind of alcohol-related punishment for drinking and driving," she told us.

jenna breen facebook.jpg
Jenna Breen's Facebook profile photo.
"Right now in Colorado, a hit-and-run driver is punished less severely than someone who is found to be above the limit for intoxication," she continued. "Hit and run is classified as a class-five felony, and if there is serious bodily injury, it increases to a class-four felony" -- see the statute here. "But that's it. There's nothing beyond that, which is why, in Colorado, the drivers make the choice. Either they decide they're not going to stay and help somebody, or they're so drunk they can't figure out if they've hurt somebody -- so they leave."

Also frustrating to Feyerherm was the initial bail placed on Nguyen -- $20,000, according to a bondsman who spoke with Parrish. This figure led to the Facebook page. In his words, "We thought, if we put a spotlight on this, it might raise awareness about the situation -- influence the legal people involved to use some common sense and make the bail high enough where he's not likely to get out."

That appears to have happened. While Westminster Police public information officer Investigator Trevor Materasso is unable to corroborate the $20,000 figure, he does confirm that Nguyen's bond was raised at the request of the DA's office to $250,000. (Update: Adams County DA spokeswoman Krista Flannigan does likewise.) Nguyen remains in custody at this writing, and it's Materasso's understanding that if he is released, he'll be required to wear an ankle monitor to insure that he doesn't drive soused again.

Because Breen's family is making funeral arrangements today, they haven't had a chance to set up an account in her memory, but Feyerherm says information about one will be posted on the Justice for Jenna page once it's online. In the meantime, here's a look at Nguyen's booking photo.

viet quoc nguyen mug shot.jpg
Viet Nguyen.
Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Tim Albo: Hit-and-run victim making progress, but brother Rodney says he faces long road."

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16 comments
Nforbes87
Nforbes87

I feel bad for the family and for Jenna. As I read the comments and items from the news it bothers me that there is an emphasis on him being a 3 time DUI offender. The problem I have with that is most don't know that after the first DUI there is really no difference in punishment after getting more. Which means that two, three or seven DUIs have the same consequences. What we need to do is readjust our statutes and put harsher punishments on criminals.

JohnnyOO
JohnnyOO

send him and his family BACK across the pond to where they belong..   pulling rice out of MUD..

sober
sober

If you're arrested for DUI - you should get an ankle monitor for 1 year, minimum.  Try getting a job with that thing on.  Would that be enough deterrent?  Everyone should have InterLock in their vehicle.  People can't smoke in a restaurant, why should they be able to drink in one?   I have to stub out my cigarette before I enter the building but any lush with 1 to X amount of drinks can leave the building, get in their car and drive?  An unchecked drunk driver does what they want.  DONT DRINK AND DRIVE!  You have to stop yourself.  Don't Do It!  What this man did was NOT an accident.  It was NOT a mistake.  It was a risk he took knowingly and with prior history of cause, effect, circumstance, and punishment.  Still, he did not care.  He willingly, wantingly got behind the wheel anyway.  A four-time drunk, drug-abusing LOSER with no conscience.  Is anyone going to learn from this?  Perhaps we sober drivers will try to be even more alert and observant of the traffic around us, but the drunkie-poos out there will still get behind the wheel because they all think they're good drivers and "it won't happen to me" - but who cares what happens to YOU drunk-butt-nut.  We only care what happens to the good, kind people like Jenna Breen and Tim Albo.  Get drunk in your home and then sit on your sofa with a paper plate and drive yourself to bed.  Stay off the roads!  Jenna can't come back but that jackwagon is sitting in custody getting 3 squares, legal counsel, healthcare, and whatever else the state decides he will need to "rehabilitate" at taxpayers expense, and he gets to keep his life.  It is NOT FAIR.  Blessings and prayers to Jenna's family.  I hope you can find strength and courage to get through this difficult time.  Speedy journey Jenna.  Healing vibes to Tim.   Thank you for the story.  I had no idea that passengers were not accountable.  Appaling.   

te2012
te2012

We can stop this right now. Check out the new law passed in France, all cars will have to have an Interlock. We won't do this here because the cities, county and state get too much revenue from DUI stops. If it's about safety we can do this, but it's not it's about money. Too many Lawyers, Judges and Police Officers are paid for with this money. It's a cash cow. I would be more than happy to have an Interlock on my car. Remember, driving is a privilege, not a right, the state can place any restrictions on it they want.

Kukabear
Kukabear

The only way I can see even a $250,000 bail, is if the suspect gave up information on the illegal activities of others he hangs out with. That seems to be the only reason that would make sense.

Maya
Maya

Thank you for writing this story and the other's you have covered with Tim Albo and his family.  Please let people know that MADD has victim services, at no cost, for friends and family who need resources, help, support, have questions, or want to talk.  The Denver office number is 303-425-5902.  Thank you!

Sbsturm
Sbsturm

Right on larry you are a awsome dude for doing all of this for gail and jake!

Angie71709
Angie71709

Why is it that drug dealers get life sentences and the key thrown away but a person who takes another persons life gets a slap on the hand? Our justic system is ass backwards. What goes to say that he learns his leason this forth time around... Who knows tell hes given another oppertunity to shadder another familys lives!!

Bosox3419
Bosox3419

Idk about there but in TX the first dui is a class b misdemeanor 2nd is a class a misdemeanor and your 3rd is a state felony 2-5 years in prison

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take, Nforbes -- one we're going to make an upcoming Comment of the Day. Congrats, and thanks for weighing in.

JapDaniels
JapDaniels

your a racist ignorant fuck!!! i know him and his family. They had nothing to do with this it was his mistake not theirs. Try shutting your cock sucker for once and stop being a dumb dipshit.

Ladylillian
Ladylillian

Your pretty ignorant! This man IS American born and raised! His ancestory has NOTHING to do with any of this!

Kukabear
Kukabear

Agreed te2012.Whether the initial bond was lower or not, I still think he rolled on his buddies to receive even a $250,000 bond.  

Sakarlson
Sakarlson

Drug dealers do kill a lot of people though....

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