Family, friends remember hit-and-run crash victims at emotional vigil

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DENVER — A week after a tragic hit-and-run accident at West 44th Avenue and Federal Boulevard, friends and family gathered to remember the young life lost that day.

Two weeks out from Sebastian Evridge’s 22nd birthday, his friends and family should have been planning a party. Instead, they are planning his funeral and lighting candles in his memory.

“To me, I think remembrance of my son is more important than anything else,” said Ray Evridge, Sebastian's father.

Sebastian Evridge died Aug. 3 after a horrific car crash.

Police said Ricardo Gardea was drinking and on drugs early that when he robbed a home, then sped away at more than 100 mph. He faces murder charges after allegedly slamming his white Dodge Durango into five cars, including Evridge’s black Jeep.

The gas tank caught fire, engulfing Evridge and his passenger, Steven Hughes. Hughes is in a medically induced coma and is still in critical condition after getting burned over 25 percent of his body. Evridge died at the hospital.

“It’s important to remember him not because of what happened right here on this street but because of his life,” Sebastian’s sister Alexa Matson said.

More than 100 people came out to reflect on the good Evridge brought the world in his short life. They left pictures, candles, notes and flowers at a memorial near the crash site.

“You can just look at these pictures and see how amazing he was,” Matson said. “He just lit up everyone’s life.”

While his loved ones say it’s hard to say goodbye, letting go also brings comfort.

“Something tragic like this happens and you see people step up. You see the good side of people,” Matson said.

At dusk, candles burned in the young man’s honor as a symbol of the promise his family made to never let his light go out.

“It’s a beautiful, joyous occasion to remember his candle, his love, his light,” Ray Evridge said.