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Denver hit-and-run victim's family: 'Why would someone just leave?'

9:38 PM, Feb 17, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER - The family of an 11-year-old boy who died in a hit-and-run on Sunday night tells 9Wants to Know their loss is immeasurable.

"He was everything to us," Gwen Talamantes-Espinoza said on Monday. Her nephew, Michael Espinoza, died at the scene shortly after being struck by a car at Federal Boulevard and West Colfax Avenue around 8 p.m. on Sunday.

"I just don't understand. Why would someone just leave?" she added.

Denver Police arrested Oswaldo Lopez, 21, about an hour after the hit-and-run that claimed the boy known as "Mikey" to his friends and family. They arrested him without incident in Aurora just south of Denver's Stapleton neighborhood.

An accident report released on Monday afternoon suggests Denver police believe Lopez was going 60 mph when he hit Espinoza in the northbound lanes of Federal Boulevard. The police report says police do not believe alcohol to be a factor.

"I know my nephew went to heaven, but we're going to be hurting for the rest of our lives," Talamantes-Espinoza said.

Lopez is expected to be in court on Tuesday. Denver police are holding him on suspicion of vehicular homicide.

Espinoza's 15-year-old sister said in many ways she remains in disbelief.

"I'm hurt and lost," Alicionna Espinoza said. "I don't understand how someone could do this and just leave him there."

Mikey had spent part of Sunday night at the Denny's located just to the north of Federal and Colfax. He was with a friend and an older cousin according to staff at the Denny's.

9Wants to Know and I-News launched #justSTOP just last week to focus attention on what some call a hit-and-run epidemic. The joint investigation revealed the location of more than 1,300 injuries from hit-and-runs between 2011 and 2013 in Denver, Aurora and Lakewood. The numbers suggest, on average, one person a day is injured during a hit-and-run in the Denver metro area.

Metro Denver Hit-and-Run Injuries 2011-2013:

Espinoza's family tells 9Wants to Know they will hold a candlelight vigil for the boy on Tuesday night near the scene of the hit-and-run.

Espinoza was a fifth grade student at Denver's Knapp Elementary.

According to the latest statistics from the Colorado State Patrol, 34 died in 2012 as a result of hit-and-runs. The number represents nearly a doubling of the number of deaths from the year before.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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