WIGGINS, Colo. – An Aurora couple had to be hospitalized after a fiery crash in which they were hit head-on by a man driving the wrong way on I-76 in a stolen pickup, according to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies said an off-duty investigator spotted the suspect, later identified as Joshua Rene Paredez, 27, running out of Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply in Fort Morgan Sunday evening with his arms full of power tools.
The investigator followed the suspect while calling 911 and attempted to block him from leaving, but the suspect rammed the investigator’s vehicle with his pickup and sped off, getting onto Highway 34 and then onto westbound I-76, deputies said.
Colorado State Patrol troopers began to pursue the suspect as he drove the wrong way on the freeway, then exited at Wiggins and re-entered I-76 west of Wiggins.
Shortly after getting back onto I-76, deputies said Paredez crashed the pickup head-on into a car, deputies said. The pickup flipped several times and caught fire.
The other vehicle remained in the center of the highway, with the seriously-injured female passenger trapped inside. Deputies said the car’s driver was able to get out on his own. The man and woman, identified as husband and wife, were both transported to area hospitals.
The male victim was treated for cuts, bruises and broken bones and released from the hospital. The woman remained in serious condition Monday at Medical Center of the Rockies with multiple broken bones and head injuries.
Paredez had to be pulled from the burning pickup and was taken to University Hospital in Aurora with serious burns over about half of his body, investigators said. As of Monday, he remained in the hospital in critical condition.
Deputies said Paredez has outstanding warrants from Lakewood and Fountain for failure to appear on shoplifting and domestic violence charges. He also has prior arrests in Texas on DUI, fraud, cruelty to animals and drug charges.
While trying to locate the rightful owner of the stolen pickup Monday, investigators located another stolen pickup that may be connected to Paredez. The truck’s owner told investigators he had let Paredez use his vehicle the day before.