During his last conversation, 8-year-old Levi Echenique asked how to get to heaven.
The question came minutes after he talked to his parents about a dog named Dax that the family put down a couple of years ago, his father, Jose Echenique, said Sunday night.
“I looked into the rearview mirror to answer him, and all I felt was like a sledgehammer over my head,” Jose said. “That was it.”
Levi died Aug. 31 after a Chevrolet Camaro barrelled through a red light and slammed into the side of his family’s Dodge Avenger at Eastern and Harmon avenues, sending the family’s car crashing into another vehicle.
More than 100 people gathered Sunday night at Paradise Park to remember the Rowe Elementary School student. Candles illuminated the faces of mourners who stood near a playground in the park.
“My wife and I are very overwhelmed with the love that we are getting,” Echenique said at the park.
The crash happened just before 8:30 a.m. while Levi’s family was taking him to school, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the boy’s family. The family had just dropped Levi’s 12-year-old brother, Joey, off at school, a family friend told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Levi died at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.
The third-grader would do anything to make people laugh, said his aunt, Amanda Echenique. He liked normal 8-year-old things, such as Minecraft, Angry Birds and SpongeBob SquarePants, she said. He was creative and charismatic and excited to learn.
“He just really was so bright,” she said.
Levi’s parents also were hospitalized after the crash. His mother, Briejet, suffered collapsed and punctured lungs, a broken pelvis, broken ribs and loss of movement in her right leg, according to the page. Briejet was still hospitalized Sunday, but her condition is improving, Amanda Echenique said.
The woman police say was driving the Camaro, 25-year-old Aylin Alderette, was arrested on suspicion of DUI and reckless driving, records show. Jail records and police also identified the woman as Aylin Alvarez-Perez.
Investigators determined she was driving more than 100 mph in a 45 mph zone before the crash, according to her arrest report. Data that police pulled from her car showed she slowed to 81 mph for a traffic light that had been red for three seconds, according to court documents.
Alderette told police she was speeding because she was late for work, records show. A court hearing for Alderette is scheduled for Monday morning.
Money is being raised for Levi Echenique’s family through GoFundMe.com/fortheloveoflevi. As of Sunday night, the page had raised more than a third of its $100,000 goal. Donations will be used for funeral and medical expenses, according to the page.