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Hundreds attend vigil for teen killed in by alleged drunken driver

By: Bill Melugin
EL PASO, Texas -- Hundreds showed up to a candlelight vigil Monday night to remember the life of 13-year-old Pablo Hernandez, who was killed by an alleged drunk driver over the weekend.

The vigil was held at the crash site at the 9300 block of North Loop Drive in the Lower Valley.

Police said 32-year-old Julian Tapia was drunk and speeding when his Ford F-150 rear-ended a Chevrolet Suburban with a mother and her two teenage children inside.

According to police, the children were in the rear cargo area of the Suburban and were not wearing seat belts.

Pablo Hernandez's 15-year-old sister, Isabel Hernandez suffered serious injuries in the crash as well.

KFOX14 was told she has a broken neck, broken spine, fractured skull, swelling in her brain, a ruptured spleen and a broken pelvis, amongst other internal injuries.

KFOX14 spoke to two uncles of Pablo and Isabel Hernandez, who were understandably very emotional.

"I don't have words on how I feel right now. I'm devastated, my family is devastated, it's been a hard time, were pushing through," said Rafael Esparza. "Pablo was just 13 years (old), full of wonderful, positive memories and he was just a funny guy, that was in his nature, he actually wanted to be a Jim Carey-type of personality."

"When we got the call, I just saw my brother's face and I was like, 'Oh no,' after that we were trying to figure things out, when we heard my nephew didn't make it, that was just devastating," said Manuel Esparza. "There was not one bad thing about that boy, he made everybody laugh, he touched so many people's hearts."

The family told KFOX14 they frequently hear about accidents caused by drunken drivers on the news, but never thought it would happen to them.

"It was a senseless act, DWI's can be avoided, they can, just get a designated driver or don't drink and if you do get a friend to take you home or something," Rafael Esparza said. "It can cause grief for a whole family, it's something we're never going to forget, who knows how long it will take to get through it."

"My reaction was, 'Wow, another DWI, but this time it was us'," Manuel Esparza said

Isabel Hernandez was a basketball player at Horizon High School. Her family told KFOX14 the Bel Air girl's basketball team plans to wear her number the rest of the season and many of the teams she competes against showed up at the hospital to support her.

Tapia was arrested and booked on a charge of intoxication manslaughter. His bond has been set at $100,000.



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