NewsLocal News


10-year-old Brighton boy killed in DUI crash remembered as 'beautiful soul'

Gavin Cecil
Posted at 4:51 PM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 19:51:35-04

BRIGHTON, Colo. — For the first time since a deadly DUI crash that killed a 10-year-old boy in Brighton, the boy's family shares the pain they're experiencing as they prepare to plan his funeral.

"It broke my heart and it destroyed me. I haven't been able to sleep since the day he passed," Joseph Martinez, the boy's biological father, said Tuesday.

He was asleep early Sunday morning when he received a call from his family that his son, Gavin Cecil, died in a crash Saturday night.

"I think that's one of the most horrific phone calls I've ever had in my life," Martinez said.

Brighton police say Gavin Cecil's mother, 27-year-old Karena Cecil, was driving on I-76 when she lost control of the car, causing it to roll over.

Gavin Cecil died at the hospital. Karena Cecil, Gavin Cecil's stepbrother and an unidentified man had minor injuries.

According to an arrest affidavit obtained by Denver7 on Tuesday, Karena Cecil admitted to police she drank four hours prior to the crash. The affidavit also revealed she failed a sobriety test.

"She's a grown woman. She's not a child. He was a child, and he's the one that paid the cost. Our child paid the cost for her mistakes," Martinez said.

His relationship with Karena Cecil has been a complicated one, but he says he never let that get in the way of loving his son.

"He was a beautiful soul and brought happiness and light into everybody's life that he touched," he said.

Martinez says he last saw Gavin about two years ago. He wishes he had more time with him.

"I always thought I had time to make it up to him, to fix things. I tried so hard in so many different situations," Martinez said.

Gavin Cecil was a student at Southeast Elementary School. According to the school district, counselors and a therapy dog were at the campus Tuesday morning to comfort students.

"You could look at him and just fall in love with him," said Sherry Vallejos, Gavin's aunt and Martinez's sister. "And his hugs. My gosh, his hugs were so amazing. No matter what you were going through, man, that kid could just take it away."

Now, both Martinez and Vallejos, along with Gavin Cecil's mother's family, are focused on planning his funeral. To help with the costs, Vallejos created a GoFundMe.

Meanwhile, Karena Cecil, who's faced several DUI charges in the past, has a second court date on Thursday for charges, including vehicular homicide, DUI and two counts of child abuse.