PUEBLO, Colo. - Loved ones honored the life of a Pueblo teen who was tragically killed earlier this week.
Eric Velasquez, 18, was ejected from a vehicle on Interstate 25 and hit by an oncoming train shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday.
His friends and family rode motorcycles to Velasquez's funeral Thursday morning, paying tribute to his dream of someday owning a bike. Velasquez's uncle, Randy Valdez, said the ride to the funeral was his nephew's "last ride."
"Eric's not gone. We're celebrating Eric's life today," Valdez said.
Friends gathered in front of Velasquez's home before the funeral, grappling with the events that had unfolded just days ago.
"Today is the worst day of my life- losing someone so close to me," said Michael Mondragon, who had been friends with Velasquez since middle school.
Pueblo police said Velasquez and two other teens were in a white Ford Explorer heading north on I-25, just past the 13 Street exit, when the driver lost control. The SUV rolled over train tracks, and Velasquez landed in the path of an oncoming train.
"That was my best friend, and I love him to death," Mondragon said.
Anthony Silva, friend of Velasquez, said, "I've been around this family since it happened. It's hard seeing his whole family like this, hurting."
Police said the driver was speeding. Officers are investigating whether alcohol was involved.
"Kids need to stop drinking and driving. It's not healthy. It hurts families. It breaks people," Mondragon said. "Kids need to wear their seat belts."
Velasquez's uncle describes his nephew as outgoing and bubbly. He was previously enrolled at East High School and was getting ready to go back to school, this time at Central High School.
"He'll never be gone in my heart. He'll always be in my heart. Always," Valdez said.
Police have not said who was driving the vehicle and are investigating whether alcohol was involved. One of the teens involved in the crash is still in a hospital in Denver.
The Velasquez family is accepting donations. There's an account set up at Power Credit Union under Eric Velasquez Memorial.