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Aurora family devastated that son's funeral can't be held in church after COVID-19 closure

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Posted at 7:15 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 21:36:59-04

DENVER — A family mourning the loss of their son is struggling with the reality that they can't give him the proper burial at a church.

Ronald Rivera, the father of Cameron Rivera, 23, says he can't bury his son or have closure without a proper funeral at their church. He says it's been challenging, and he's been told it will be at least two months before his church opens.

Churches across the nation have shuttered due to the coronavirus.

Rivera was killed in a motorcycle accident on Monday. According to a police report, Rivera was riding his bike with his friends on east Quincy Avenue when a sedan made a left turn on Pitkin Street. Rivera crashed into the passenger's side and was ejected from his bike. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

His family and friends built a memorial outside St. Lawrence Korean Catholic Church, near where the crash happened. They left flowers, pictures, and notes remembering Rivera.

On Saturday, friends and family came together at El Dorado Park in Aurora for a balloon release. Many set the fear of COVID-19 aside as they wiped tears and embraced each other tightly for support.

Jeremy Escalante says he met Rivera when he was 4-years-old. He described his best friend as adventurous. He says Rivera loved nature. It's why he says they nicknamed him "nature boy."

"We went fishing; we went hiking; we went snowboarding; we went skateboarding. He was my brother," he said.

Rivera's aunt Racheal Gupton says Camron grew up around motorcycles. His friend Justin Jenkins described it more than a hobby, "it was his life."

Jenkins was riding with Rivera the day he died. He says 30 minutes before the crash, they grabbed lunch and decided to go for a ride on their motorcycles to enjoy the weather. It marked their last ride together.

Jenkins says he saw the sedan coming, but there was nowhere for Rivera to go.

He says he saw the impact, "I slammed on my breaks…and ran too him."

Rivera was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the police report.

Rivera's cousin cried as she remembered her older cousin.

"He had his whole life left," Madison Gupton said. He didn't have to leave so early."

Her mother, Racheal Gupton, held her daughter as she cried. She says the hardest part is knowing she will never see her nephew again.

"Every time I saw him, he was smiling," she said. "He had the perfect smile…his smile lit up a room."

The family plans to hold a celebration of life for Rivera at a local bar in Highlands Ranch.

The family has set-up a Gofundme for Rivera. To help, click here.