Fresno family mourning grandfather in hit-and-run crash

July 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Fresno family is mourning a grandfather killed in a hit-and-run crash right in front of his home. The 82-year-old victim has been identified as Gerardo Avila. Fresno police say a suspected drunk driver ran over him Saturday night. He has since been arrested but that doesn't bring much comfort to the victim's family.

Flowers rested on the front steps of Gerardo Avila's Southeast Fresno home. A memorial with pictures of the 82-year-old grandfather captured his loving devotion to his family. "He didn't deserve to die that way. He was going to die of old age. He had some illnesses but he didn't deserve to die that way," said Robert Avila, the victim's brother.

Family of Avila gathered at the house Sunday -- a day after he was fatally run over right in front of his house. Skid marks still visible on the sidewalk where the driver of a black Volkswagen Jetta went over the curb and struck the 82-year-old who was watering his lawn.

"I don't see how a person could get run over while he's watering his lawn," said Avila.

Fresno police say Alonso Abymael, 22, was drunk behind the wheel when he hit Avila. The suspect then drove off but was later arrested on Highway 180 near Highway 99.

"They're irresponsible. They took a life that still had more life in them," said Avila.

His brother, Gerardo, suffered severe head trauma from the collision and died at the hospital.

Gerardo was a registered sex offender who lived alone but neighbors say he was a nice man who didn't cause any trouble. "I see him every day in the morning when I go to work and when I come back. And he tells me, 'hi, how are you,'" said neighbor Marcela Ortiz.

But it's how Avila died that is now causing his 3 children and 12 grandchildren much grief. "He was a lonely man but he was happy when he was by himself," said Avila.

The family is making funeral arrangements. As for the suspect, he was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony DUI and felony hit-and-run.


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