(CBS4) – A loved one of Gavin Cecil, a 10-year-old-boy killed in a rollover crash over the weekend, is sharing his heartbreak for the first time since the incident. Police suspect Karena Cecil, his 27-year-old mother, was driving under the influence when she lost control and rolled her car on Interstate 76 in Brighton on Saturday. Karena has two prior DUIs.
Karena is now charged with vehicular homicide, DUI, careless driving, child abuse, driving without a license, habitual traffic offender and no proof of insurance.
A man and another child of Karena’s were also in the car. The man and second child suffered minor injuries.
“He was just a loving, caring kid,” said Anthony Lontine, an ex-boyfriend of Karena who considered himself a father figure to Gavin. “No matter who you are, he was going to go up to you and have a heartwarming conversation with you.”
Lontine said he started dating Cecil’s mother when he was 4 months old and had since been there as a father figure and “best friend.” He said the outgoing and energetic 10-year-old was a quick learner and passionate about baseball.
“He had such a bright future — such a smart, talented kid,” Lontine said.
Over the weekend, Lontine learned he lost that best friend in the crash on I-76.
“At first I felt like it was a dream. I wanted to wake up from the dream,” he said.
Lontine said the other child in the car was Karena and Lontine’s 6-year-old son.
“He lost his best friend,” Lontine said. “I’m trying every day to get better and hold on tight for him and be strong.”
While Karena remains in custody, Lontine said he had no words for her but shared a message to other parents.
“If you’re under the influence, do not put your children in that situation,” Lontine said.
Family members have started a GoFundMe page to pay for Gavin Cecil’s funeral.