Dozens gather to remember boy lost in crash a year ago

July 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dozens gathered to remember a little boy killed in a hit and run accident a year ago.

Friday marked a somber anniversary for a Fresno family of a boy hit and killed in a crosswalk in Northeast Fresno last summer.

Donovan Maldonado, 7-years-old, died in July when a drunk driver crashed into him. He was riding his bicycle with his family on Shepherd Avenue near Millbrook.

Close to 100 friends and family members gathered to hold a candlelight vigil on the school grounds where Donovan once played. " Donovan played extremely hard. He was competitive and he was athletic beyond his years," recalled his first grade teacher, Kathy Regier.

Those who knew Donovan shared personal stories to remember the 7-year-old who touched so many lives. "He was a really good player in basketball and soccer," said classmate Nicholas Forestiera.

It was a year ago today when Donovan was riding his bike with his mom, dad, and two sisters when their lives changed forever. Donovan was struck by a drunk driver, dragging the little boy almost 300 yards. The driver, Loren Lebeau, returned to the scene and was arrested.

"Hopefully he could forgive himself. As far as the legal system, there will never be any justice for a life taken out like that," said Donovan's grandfather, Michael Greer. "We have choices and sometimes we make bad choices."

The former basketball coach pleaded "no contest" to DUI manslaughter charges in court last month. But the family is still struggling with the aftermath.

"I'm glad that it's moving on. I just pray that there's forgiveness so that we can heal. The family is torn, we were torn apart," said Greer.

And while there were tears at the vigil, there was also laughter and smiles to remember a little boy who had a big heart. "Donovan was a big part of our lives and we hurt, we really do," said Regier.

Lebeau will be sentenced to 12 years in prison on August 29.


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