Las Vegas Sun

October 17, 2018

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Community remembers 8-year-old crash victim with candles, prayer

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Ricardo Torres-Cortez

Cameron Miller speaks during a candlelight vigil for 8-year-old Levi Echenique at Paradise Park, 4775 McLeod Dr., Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. Echenique was killed by a suspected impaired driver in a traffic accident on Aug. 31 at at Eastern and Harmon avenues.

Vigil for Levi Echenique

A photo of 8-year-old Levi Echenique is displayed during a candlelight vigil at Paradise Park, 4775 McLeod Dr., Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. Echenique was killed by a suspected impaired driver in a traffic accident on Aug. 31 at at Eastern and Harmon avenues. Launch slideshow »

Levi Echenique’s favorite book was the Bible, his favorite places church and the baseball diamond.

The 8-year-old whose life was cut short in an Aug. 31 car crash was remembered by his family as innocent, kind and caring Sunday night during a candlelight vigil celebrating his life.

More than 200 people stood before a wooden cross at Paradise Park, 4775 McLeod Drive, many holding wax candles and some sobbing as they struggled to come to grips with the loss.

Nine family members, including the boy’s father, lone sibling, grandfather, uncles, aunts and young cousins wore matching white shirts with #ForTheLoveOfLevi written on them in blue.

Metro Police say 25-year-old Aylin Alvarez-Perez ran a red light, crashing into a car driven by Levi’s father, Jose Echenique, at Eastern and Harmon avenues. Alvarez-Perez reached speeds of 103 mph before crashing into the Echenique family’s car at 81 mph, police said.

Levi, sitting in the back seat, was pronounced dead at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. His father and mother, Briejet Echenique, were also hospitalized with extensive injuries.

Cameron Miller, a local Christian minister who presided and led prayer at Sunday night’s vigil, urged people to remember Levi as “a lighthouse of hope.”

“Levi’s time was short, but it was impactful,” Miller said.

The day before his death, Echenique drew a picture of a lighthouse for his mother. Briejet Echenique posted a photo of Levi’s artwork on Facebook, praising her son for his thoughtfulness. His last words, according to family, were asking his father how people make it to heaven.

Jose Echenique, who suffered neck, back and leg injuries, said his son had a great future, as dozens of people at the vigil lined up to hug and offer condolences.

He was released from the hospital earlier this week and is expected to make a full recovery, but Briejet Echenique remained hospitalized Sunday night while she recovers from broken ribs, punctured lungs and a broken pelvis.

“This is something that shouldn’t happen,” said Levi’s grandfather, Jose Angel Echenique, who emigrated to Las Vegas from northern Spain in the 1970s. “This is really a tragedy.”