Crowd gathers for vigil honoring 11-year-old killed in hit-and-run

Family prays for justice in case

DENVER - About 200 people gathered near Federal Blvd. and Colfax Ave. in honor of an 11-year-old boy killed in a hit and run accident Sunday.

"I don't understand it, I'll never understand it," said the aunt of MIchael "Mikey" Espinoza. 

Several people spoke at the vigil about the little boy who loved everyone he met.

"One thing I remember about him was his smile," said the minister speaking at the vigil. "His chubby little cheeks, and how he had so much joy and compassion in everything he did."
 
The man accused in the hit-and-run death of an 11-year-old Denver boy told police he was racing a motorcycle and was going 60 mph when his car struck the boy in the middle of the street.

Oswaldo Lopez, 21, was interviewed by police who tracked the front license plate of his 2013 Dodge Charger after the plate and part of the car's bumper was knocked off in the impact with Michael Espinoza on Sunday evening.

The boy was crossing Federal Boulevard at the West Colfax Avenue bridge when he was hit in the street.  There was no crosswalk.

"Lopez stated he felt the pedestrian striking the underside of his vehicle as he drove over him," a probable cause affidavit said.

Witnesses said the car continued north without stopping after it hit the boy.

Lopez said he drove home and did not call police.  He was arrested several hours after the crash at his Aurora home.

Lopez faces charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.  His bond was set at $50,000.

"We're not good, we're devastated. We'll never get over this," said the boy's aunt, Gwen Espinoza-Talamantes.   "We're hurt for life. My baby's gone. My sister's lost,"  said outside the courtroom.

Her son was with Mikey when he was hit and now blames himself.

"Please, if you ever, ever hit somebody -- stop,." said Espinoza. "If he [Lopez] wouldn't have left, I wouldn't have no bad feelings, if would have just stopped and helped my son deal with this. My son is scarred forever."

Friends of the family are organizing a fundraising car wash at the Peerless Tyre Company at Sheridan and Jewell.  The car wash will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2 pm Saturday.

A memorial account in Mikey's name has also been set up at Wells Fargo Bank.

Family members say it is to help defray funeral expenses.