BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – A Brighton mother appeared in court Tuesday after a crash that killed her 10-year-old son. Police suspect Karena Cecil, 27, was driving under the influence when she rolled her car on Interstate 76 at Bromley Lane on Saturday. Cecil has two prior DUIs.

Karena Cecil (credit: Brighton Police)

“It’s been a long, challenging year for everyone, certainly horrific tragedy to really end the school year here on Memorial Day Weekend,” said Dr. Chris Fiedler, the superintendent for 27J Schools.

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Gavin Cecil, who was in 3rd grade at Southeast Elementary School, died in the crash.

Gavin Cecil (credit: GoFundMe)

Members of the school’s counseling team, the District’s crisis response team, and their therapy dog, Apollo, will be at the school on Tuesday from 9-11 a.m. to provide support to students, families and staff.

“I was just visiting with a father who brought his son in,” Fiedler told CBS4 outside the school on Tuesday. “His son actually played baseball with Gavin so they’re here just getting support and I think he actually requested time with Apollo.”

Family members have started a GoFundMe to pay for Gavin Cecil’s funeral.

“Gavin actually lived across the street from me,” Fiedler said. “Didn’t know him well but just a really great young man, always had a smile on his face.”

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Investigators say Cecil was heading east when she lost control of the vehicle, drifted off the road and rolled in the median. The vehicle ended up in the westbound lanes.

(credit: CBS)

A man and two of Cecil’s children were in the car. The man and second child suffered minor injuries.

Investigators believe speed and alcohol were factors in the deadly crash.

Cecil is now charged with vehicular homicide, DUI, careless driving, child abuse, driving without a license, habitual traffic offender and no proof of insurance.

(credit: CBS)

Cecil’s lengthy arrest record dates back to January of 2015. She’s faced multiple charges since then including DUI, habitual traffic offender-driving after revocation and driving without insurance. More serious charges stemmed from the Lochbuie Police Department in October of 2017 which included vehicular eluding, second degree kidnapping and DUI “with excessive alcohol.”

In that 2017 case out of Lochbuie, Cecil pleaded guilty to DUI and vehicular eluding, but charges of child abuse and second degree kidnapping were dropped. She also pleaded guilty to another DUI in May of 2019.

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“Just want to extend our deepest sympathies to Gavin’s family, extended family, it’s heartbreaking, can’t imagine what they’re going through,” the superintendent said. “But know that we care about them. We love them. We’ll do all we can to support them through this tragedy.”

Shawn Chitnis