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Daughter of hit and run victim, ‘Cowboy Joe,’ says Christmas will be hard, does not blame driver

Posted at 8:33 PM, Dec 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-23 22:17:22-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Joe Burford, a 73-year-old man who was involved in a hit and run Friday on Beck Street died Saturday morning.

Fox 13 spoke to one of his daughters about how his family is dealing with what happened.

"My dad got a call that one of his customers were here to drop their dogs off for Christmas vacation. He went over to let them in, and somehow the dog slipped out of his collar and took off," said Becca Hasson Burford's daughter.

The dog took off into Beck Street, and Becca says being the type of person he is, Joe ran after it.

"I heard a manic knocking and doorbell ringing," Hasson said, "and my mom was at the door and told me my dad has been hit by a car."

Joe was then rushed to the University of Utah hospital in critical condition but later died Saturday morning from a head injury.

"Both of his shins were shattered; one of them, the bone was sticking through," said Hasson. "His pelvis was completely shattered in multiple places."

The man driving the vehicle that hit Joe was with his young son, Hasson said.

"I just heard them ask, 'Who hit this man?' and a man raised his hand and said, 'I did,'" Hasson recalled.

But later, the driver was gone. Salt Lake City Police say he left the scene and are unaware of his identity, and while police investigate, a daughter prepares for Christmas without her dad.

"It’s still surreal. I feel like he’s going to walk through the door, and then I remember and go through a wave of panic and tears," said Hasson.

Becca said dogs were her father's life; president of the Salt Lake Terrier Association, a dog show judge, and owner of Cowboy Joe's Dog Boarding.

"He was Cowboy Joe," Hasson said. "That’s what people knew him as. He was a good person. He loved animals, loved dogs."

As for the driver of the vehicle, Becca says she wishes he would come forward.

"I hope he does just so he can have some peace and know that this could’ve happened to anyone," Hasson said.

Joe leaves behind four children. His family says they are still keeping up with reservations at Cowboy Joe's Dog Boarding because they say, that is what Joe would have wanted.

They have also set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for Joe Burford's medical bills. That page can be found here.