DENVER - In a moment of recovery and hope, a widower says thank you to the woman who stopped to help his dying wife.
Leanna Hund was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Colorado Boulevard last Thursday. Despite just losing his wife, Harold Rivers Jr. wanted to thank Shannon Mellinger for having the heart to stop.
Rivers says his 63-year-old wife was on her way to work that morning. She always took the bus and had just gotten off to cross the street.
She never made it. Witnesses say someone plowed into her and left her to die.
"I was just totally devastated," said Rivers. "I just thank you so much. You're my hero. You'll always be my friend," Rivers told Mellinger on Tuesday when they met for the first time face-to-face.
"I think it started out to be an accident that turned into a horrible crime," said Mellinger.
Mellinger witnessed the deadly hit-and-run last week that killed Rivers' wife.
"She was the light of my life. Everyone that knew her loved her. She was creative, intelligent," said Rivers. "She was an accomplished artist. She loved the Broncos, but she was truly a Packers fan. And that was difficult for us at times, but we got over it."
Despite the fact that the driver who hit Leanna took off, Mellinger wanted Rivers to know many others stopped to help.
"One man put his jacket over her to comfort her," she said. "I didn't know Leanna, but she's a person. Who doesn't stop and help?"
Mellinger later helped identify the vehicle police now have in custody.
Police still haven't made an arrest. The owner of the car in question isn't talking.
"He either denied it, or doesn't remember or denied being there," said Rivers.
But that doesn't diminish what happened during this meeting, a new friendship forged out of tragedy.
"It's been a real comfort to me," said Rivers. "I've gotten a lot of closure out of her talking to me. And I think I've met a person that I'm going to be friends with for a long time."
Denver police say they are still in the process of collecting forensic evidence in the hit and run. The vehicle is still in custody. It is a 1985 Chevy Impala.