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‘He was a beautiful fellow’: Las Vegas teen killed by speeding truck mourned

Updated March 21, 2024 - 11:05 pm

A crowd of about 50 people, mostly teenagers, released star-shaped helium balloons into the air at a park in eastern Las Vegas in honor of 17-year-old Devin Heath, who died after he was struck by a speeding pickup truck Monday.

Devin’s father Raymond Heath, pointing at Tree Line Drive where his son was hit by a suspected street racer going 73 mph in a 30 mph zone, said some changes, such as installing speed bumps or dips, need to be made to the street to deter the speeders.

“This whole area should be a school zone, from the high school to the elementary school,” said Raymond Heath, 42. “I mean you got a park here. There’s plenty of kids here. This whole area should be a reduced speed area.”

At the vigil Thursday evening at Lewis Family Park, the boy’s relatives and friends huddled together on the grass to deliver heartfelt tributes to him and lit prayer candles.

Raymond Heath marveled at the number of kids who attended his son’s vigil, especially Devin’s male friends.

“They love him,” he said. “Devin loved everybody equally and they loved him equally back. And they really showed tonight.”

He also reflected on Devin’s nature.

“You know, I have my flaws and his mother the same,” Raymond Heath said, “but Devin turned into a very unique individual and I don’t know how it happened, but he was a beautiful fellow.”

The boy’s mother, Martina Suyat, 48, flew in from Minnesota following his death and is arranging to have his body sent to that state, where, she said, he lived until two years ago when he moved with his father to Las Vegas.

“March 18 will be the day I’ll be here every single year on my son’s anniversary, right at the spot,” Suyat said. “And I will advocate, something needs to be done. These roads are not safe. Families are here, children are here. My son came to the park every single day. That is what he did.”

“I cried for two days,” she said. “I’m angry now, and I’m going to do something about it. In my son’s name, Devin Heath, something’s going to change.”

The teen had just spent time with some friends and family members at Tree Line Drive and Back Woods Road at about 9:20 p.m. He started walking across the street to accompany a friend to a bus stop when a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck appeared and crashed into him.

He died later at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.

Las Vegas police arrested the driver, Jesus Barraza, 18, who faces a charge of felony reckless driving involving death. He is set to appear in Justice Court on April 23.

Crash data taken by police from the Silverado showed that Barraza had been driving 73 mph before colliding with the pedestrian, according to a Metropolitan Police Department arrest report. The speed limit on Tree Line is posted at 30 mph.

Witnesses told police that they saw the Silverado and a Chevrolet Tahoe pickup speeding together down Tree Line before the Silverado struck the teen.

In the arrest report, police stated that Barraza denied racing against the Tahoe and said he did not see the pedestrian because of a curve in the road.

“They took something from me,” Sean Heath said of his brother’s death. “It took a big chunk out of me. That hurt me so deep. I didn’t get my last words with him.”

Sean, 15, and his older brother, Joevon Hollis, 18, recalled what they liked about their sibling, who they said loved the video game Fortnight and played basketball and baseball at Las Vegas High School, only two blocks south of where he was hit.

“He was like a lovable, good buddy,” Hollis said. “He was very caring, very social, always made me laugh.”

“He was a great, big ball of energy,” Sean said. “That is the best way to explain it. He just shined everywhere he went. Made friends everywhere we moved. And everyone loved him. He always checked up on me, everybody in the house.”

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

Review-Journal staff writer David Wilson contributed to this report.

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