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Tattoo shop raises funds for family of mother and son killed by suspected drunk driver

"He always looked at life in the eyes of innocence where lot of us are already tarnished. He took every minute like a precious thing," the tattoo shop owner said.

DENVER — A Denver tattoo shop is fundraising for a family that lost a mother and son when they were hit by a suspected drunk driver last week.

The crash happened on Interstate 25 near Castle Rock. According to the Colorado State Patrol, two people were working on a tire when a woman drove onto the shoulder and hit them.

Family identified the victims as Amber and Elijah Villarreal. 

"He always looked at life in the eyes of innocence where lot of us are already tarnished. He took every minute like a precious thing," Jazzmin Kennedy, owner of Endless Ink tattoo shop, said.

Credit: Leilah Villarreal

Kennedy's daughter is a half-sibling to Elijah. She told 9NEWS she spent a lot of time around him.

"He’s an extraordinary kid," she said. "He’s 18 but the most polite gentleman you have ever met in your life."

Elijah was hit and killed along with his mother Amber while helping her with tire trouble, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

RELATED: 2 people outside disabled vehicle killed by suspected drunk driver

"He actually walked around the car and said, 'Mom, just wait one second.' He grabbed the blanket and went around the car and put the blanket around her and they were struck by a drunk driver," Kennedy said. "It's very hard. Extremely hard." 

A suspect, 47-year-old Michelle Branch, was arrested on two counts of vehicular homicide as well as driving under the influence in connection with the crash.

Kennedy is using that hurt to heal. With each 3x3 tattoo that honors Elijah and Amber, Endless Ink will donate its proceeds to help with funeral costs. For black and grey, the cost will be $100, and for color tattoos it will be $200. 

"Anything I can do to help them with the funeral expenses that they’re going to have to endure," Kennedy said. "Help them, support them, that would probably be the best thing for them."

The tattoo fundraiser will go through Oct. 31. 

Leilah Villarreal, daughter of Amber and sister of Elijah, shared this statement with 9NEWS: 

Amber was a beautiful person inside and out, and Elijah was a caring and bright young man. They both were people who were there for others even when they had nothing. They cared deeply about those around them, even when it came to strangers. They would go out of their way to let others know how important they were. Amber dreamt big and even when surrounded with negativity she always saw the better in people and life. Elijah was no different, they were very close, always hanging out together. My mom used to call Elijah her birthday present because his birthday was right before hers. She loved music, the sound of birds chirping in the morning, the way owls looked unique from other birds, family quality time, she adored family time. Elijah loved animals, the mountains, video games and debating. We would spend hours on end debating. He loved rain and cold mornings, and as well as Amber he loved quality time with his family. He wanted to be an robotics engineer and planned on going to the School of Mines to pursue that dream. He was very intelligent. They were our backbone, we relied on each other and they relied on us. Amber and Elijah were gentle souls, patient, kind, caring, enthusiastic, witty, charismatic, they were the same person, two peas in a pod, and they meant very much to us.


RELATED: I-25 back open in Thornton after crash that killed pedestrian

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