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Man killed in hit-and-run while saving dog

Joe "Cowboy Joe" Burford. (Credit: Burford family)

UPDATE 12/23, 8:00 P.M.: The suspect in the hit-and-run has turned himself in and is cooperating with police, according to the Salt Lake City Police Department twitter account.

Police have confirmed the hit-and-run death of a man who ran into traffic to rescue a dog on Friday night.

Local kennel owner Joe Burford, 73, was struck by a southbound vehicle near near 1657 N. Beck Street while trying to return a leashed dog to his owner. The dog escaped, Burford gave chase and caught the dog. According to Burford’s daughter Becca Hasson, Burford was holding the dog in his arms when he was hit.

According to Salt Lake Police Lt. Russ Arnott, the driver momentarily got out of the vehicle to check on Burford before fleeing the scene. Police said they are seeking a male driver, but have offered few other details. The truck involved was a tan Ford F-150, Arnott said, and a boy appearing to be about 10 years old was in the front passenger seat.

Burford was in critical condition when medical responders arrived at the scene of the accident. He was transported to the U of U hospital, where he died from injuries Saturday morning.

“We all think this was a terrible tragic accident. … It could have happened to anyone,” Hasson said. “We do not blame anyone for our dad’s death. We hope the driver and his son are OK and know we do not blame them.”

Hasson and her family have set up a GoFundMe account to cover Burford’s medical bills and funeral expenses. The description calls “Cowboy Joe” “a good man, whose life was cut short too early.” You can donate to Burford’s family here.