DENVER — A confession from the man accused in a hit-and-run that killed an 11-year-old boy near Colfax and Federal.
That’s where the family of the victim held a vigil in the boy’s memory Tuesday night to bring attention to the number of hit-and-run deaths Denver has had in recent times.
Denver Police say Oswaldo Lopez, 21, told them he was street racing his Dodge Charger when he admitted to them that he hit Michael Espinoza Sunday evening.
Lopez made his first court appearance Tuesday morning.
Investigators say Lopez was driving 60 miles an hour when he hit Michael and left him to die in the street. His 14-year-old cousin watched it happen and the family is devastated.
“Please if you ever hit somebody, stop,” a crying Gwen Espinoza says. She’s the victim’s aunt. “It’s better to stop and face it than leave and kill somebody and let … my son was 14 years old … having to see his cousin die in his arms.”
The agony and anger the family feels about what happened is overwhelming.
Lopez, of Aurora, was cited for careless driving two months ago in an area also popular for street racing.
The front license plate from his car was left at the scene of Sunday night’s hit-and-run as a result of the impact.
It led police to arrest him on felony charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident causing death.
Several members of the suspect’s family left the courtroom Tuesday without comment.
This crime is familiar one in Denver. Three people were killed in hit-and-runs in 2013. There have already been two fatal hit-and-run crashes in 2014. And five others have resulted in serious injuries.
Lawmakers at the capitol are pushing for stricter sentencing for hit-and-run drivers.
“Right now we don’t have mandatory sentencing and probation is very commonly used for sentencing for these kinds of crimes,” says Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Douglas County.
So families are left demanding justice.
“His mom can visit him and my nephew is gone and my son is devastated for life,” Gwen Espinoza says. Jamie Ayala, also an aunt of the victim continues, “He blames himself for what happened because he was with him and he couldn’t help him, so he’s pretty devastated.”
The family invited anyone at the vigil to show their support for tougher hit-and-run laws.
They also remembered a little boy who everyone says had a very big heart and zest for life for will always be missed.