Family celebrates life of 10-year-old killed in I-76 DUI crash

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BRIGHTON, Colo. (KDVR) — Friends and family gathered Wednesday evening to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of 10-year-old Gavin Cecil.

According to police, the boy’s mother, Karena Cecil, had been drinking and driving when she crashed on Interstate 76 Sunday night. She has been charged with several crimes, including driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter.

Gavin was a passenger in the vehicle and did not survive. 

“He was beautiful,” Gavin’s father Joseph Martinez told FOX31. “Everybody’s lives who he touched — he made it like a beautiful thing.”

Martinez said due to a complicated family dynamic, he last saw his son two years ago, and that if he could talk to him one last time, “I would tell him that daddy loves him and have always been here for him, and that I would jump over mountains and fly to the sky just to make sure that he was OK,” he said.

He said will remember him for his infectious love, his love of sports and his hugs. 

“His hugs were the ones. When he hugged you, you could tell he loved you,” Martinez said.

A lot of those hugs were had at a vigil for the boy Wednesday night at Colorado Park in Brighton. Dozens of people came together to release balloons in his honor and light candles in his memory. 

“I want everybody to celebrate his life, not what happened to him,” Martinez said. 

However, celebrating so soon after tragedy is tough. 

“To have to bury my firstborn son is devastating. It hurts very bad, but I’ve got to be strong for him,” Martinez said. 

Part of being strong means bringing together pieces of Gavin’s family who have not always spoken to each other over the years.

“He’s my everything. That was definitely my best friend,” said Anthony Lontine, Gavin’s stepfather. “I know he’s looking down right now at us, me and [Joseph] coming together. What’s better than having two dads?”

He last spoke to Gavin two days before his death. 

“My last words with him was, you know, he was laughing. He was having a good time,” Lontine said. 

Both men are now hoping that by sharing their son’s story, more families will be inspired to put their problems aside and spend time together before it’s too late.

“I want people to realize that life is really short,” Martinez said.

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