By Mike Kinney
Dozens of solemn community members gathered on Coalinga Avenue in Richmond today to comfort a grieving family.
The vigil was held in memory of 4-year-old Heitor, who was fatally struck in what police have called a hit-and-run collision in the 2200 block of Coalinga Ave., near 23rd street, on Friday, Feb. 7.
This evening, mourners sang songs near a memorial to Heitor that included flowers, candles, balloons and a “Slow Down” traffic sign.
Heitor was described by family as an energetic, happy kid who boasted a big smile. His parents, Mauro and Jaiane, and sister witnessed the tragedy and are understandably devastated.
Today, community members offered words of love and support to Heitor’s family. Cintia Bonifacio, a close friend of the family, described a difficult day filled with tears. The funeral, burial and vigil all took place today.
“We had been with the family since 8:30 am this morning and there had been so much crying,” Bonifacio said. “The family was so grateful for everybody showing up to the vigil and supporting them in their time of need.”
That sentiment was echoed by Melinda McCrary, director of the Richmond Museum of History & Culture, who lives on Coalinga Ave., and also Robert Rogers, district coordinator for Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia.
“The loss of this beautiful, happy child is an unspeakable tragedy,” Rogers said. “We are all here to to support this family and this community. The way these neighbors and others have been here for the family is an example of love and strength.”
Heitor was fatally struck by an older-model Ford Explorer at 5 p.m. on Feb. 7. He had been standing with his father on the avenue outside the family’s home when the collision occurred. The SUV didn’t stop and fled the scene, according to Richmond police. Heitor was airlifted to the hospital, but died from his injuries at a hospital later that evening.
Richmond police published surveillance images of the suspect vehicle online that were widely shared by the media and community. The suspect surrendered to police the following night. His identity was not immediately known.
An online fundraiser was launched to help the family pay for medical and funeral expenses. As of today, donations had reached over half its goal of $30,000. Anyone wishing to contribute to the fundraiser can click here.