Allen Duke was probably listening to music through headphones while walking Saturday to the Adobe Inn, where he worked on north Main Avenue in Durango. He probably stopped to chat with Marco Ricchi, an Italian tourist whom he checked into the motel a day earlier.
He probably never saw the white Chevrolet Suburban that jumped a curb and killed him and Ricchi, according to Duke’s family, which spent Sunday and Monday visiting the crash scene, talking to police, meeting with college officials and viewing Duke’s body at Hood Mortuary.
“He was such a great kid and a great person,” said his father, Brian Duke, of Colorado Springs. “He loved this community and this area.”
Allen Duke, who didn’t have a car, walked to school or work nearly every day, usually while listening to tunes through headphones, they said. He wasn’t the type of person to ignore someone he knew, even if it was in passing, they said. He was deeply curious about people from around the world – a result of visiting Taiwan and Canada.
“He just loved the idea of seeing the world,” his father said.
Allen Duke, 23, and Ricchi, 46, died Saturday after being struck by an SUV driven by Bobby Lehmann, 76, who lives in Durango and Texas. Duke’s family was told Lehmann may have blacked out while driving.
The Durango Police Department declined to release details of the crash or a possible cause, saying it remains under investigation.
No citations had been issued as of Monday afternoon.
Durango police plan to have the SUV’s computer forensically analyzed to obtain more information about the vehicle’s speed, braking and other diagnostics.
The SUV was heading north about 4 p.m. Saturday when it jumped the right curb, struck the pedestrians and came to rest on its wheels, wedged between a sign for the Royal Motel and the motel itself at 2068 Main Ave.
“We know exactly what happened, we just don’t know what to make of it,” said Duke’s twin brother, Evan Duke. “There’s no one to blame here; that’s the hardest thing; there’s no one to blame.”
His father said if Lehmann suffered a medical emergency, he doesn’t hold any ill will toward him, “but he robbed us of a great son and the world of a terrific young man.”
Allen Duke celebrated his 23 birthday two days earlier – on Thursday – and was five weeks from graduating with a degree in accounting from Fort Lewis College.
The college said it’s looking into the possibility of awarding him a posthumous degree, which Allen Duke’s twin would like to accept during the college’s April 29 graduation ceremony.
Allen Duke came to Durango to attend FLC from Parker, where his family lived at the time. He switched his major from international business to accounting and wanted to move to Canada upon graduation to become a bank examiner.
He loved drinking sour beers at El Moro, and hated spiders, Brian Duke said.
His father used to bringing him a bag of Trolli Sour Brite Eggs, his favorite candy, every time he came to visit, because Allen couldn’t find them in Durango. He left a bag Sunday at a makeshift memorial on north Main Avenue.
Allen Duke also is survived by his mother, Emi Duke, and older sister, Bri Duke. No services have been scheduled.
“Allen was such a big part of this college community – loved it here,” his father said. “He had his whole life in front of him. That’s what’s so sad.”
Ricchi was visiting from Latina, Italy. He and a friend appeared to be on a tour of the Southwest, with stops at the Grand Canyon, Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley, according to Facebook posts. He and a friend were training to run a marathon.
In his last post, Ricchi uploaded photos of Durango, which show he had taken the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
The Adobe Inn confirmed Allen Duke would have checked Ricchi into the motel on Friday afternoon.
“I’m sure the guy (Ricchi) shared that he was from Italy and here training for a marathon, and Allen saw him come jogging by, and it was just natural to stop and chat,” said Brian Duke. “He never would have gone past someone he knew without saying ‘hi’ and chatting.”