AURORA, Colo. - The father of a 22-year old man who was struck and killed while trying to cross I-225 Sunday night says his family has lost “a bright star.”
Albert R. Ortega, Jr. told 7NEWS that his son, Nick, was traveling on I-225 with his girlfriend. He said she dropped Nick off for some reason and that he tried to cross the freeway and was hit by another motorist.
Police say that motorist failed to stop. A witness was able to get her license plate number and called police. They arrested 30-year old Tashima Littleton on suspicion of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident causing death.
“It’s been a hard three days in the Ortega household,” Albert said. “Nick was my child. It was him and me against the world.”
The grieving father said his son was spreading his wings.
“He had just gotten a really good job,” he said. “He had just met a little gal and was falling in love with her. He started talking about perhaps getting married and having a couple of babies. That was his main goal, so he could teach them sports and everything he did when he was growing up.”
The young man’s grandmother said she’s grateful that the other motorist who witnessed the accident was able to get the plate number.
“I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart,” said Dorothy D. Ortega. “It means so much to our family.”
Dorothy Ortega said she remembers the last time she spent with Nick.
“They dropped me off, he kissed me and then gave me a great big hug,” she said. “He said, ‘I love you so much Grandma.’ I said, ‘I love you too.’”
Close friends say Nick’s death has left a void in their lives.
“He was the most loving person you could ever meet,” said Kandice Schweda. “He was my best friend. We were like family.”
Schweda said Nick always made time for friends in need.
“He always had a big smile and a contagious laugh,” she said. “When we went to a concert, he disappeared for a few minutes and came back carrying a chair and said, ‘My best friend needs a chair to sit down.’ He gave me the chair and said, ‘I love you.’ I said, ‘I love you too! Thanks for the chair.’”
Longtime friend Gabriel Minjarez said Nick was always the life of the party. He said one of his best memories was when He, Nick and Kandice got together and Kandice dared them to “wax the hair on their legs.”
“Nick said, ‘I’m in,’ so we went to the store and got the wax,” Gabriel said. “It hurt, but Nick made us all laugh.”
Albert said his son excelled in sports.
“He placed 4th his senior year in wrestling,” the father said. “He became certified as a wrestling official and worked as an umpire for youth baseball.”
He said Nick made a big impression on everybody.
Funeral services for Nick Ortega will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 7595 Federal Boulevard in Westminster.