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Family gathers to remember, honor 4-year old hit and killed by suspected drunk driver

Posted at 11:34 PM, Nov 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-18 14:33:17-05

SALT LAKE CITY-- The family of a four-year old hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver in Salt Lake City came together one day after his death, to create a makeshift memorial and honor the life of Holden Curtis.

Holden died Saturday morning, after police said a man ran over Holden and his mother in a crosswalk on California Avenue at the intersection of 900 West just before 11 am.

The driver was arrested on charges of automobile homicide, DUI and other offenses including no registration and no insurance.

His mother, according to Holden's father Brett Curtis, is in the hospital with serious leg injuries.

On Sunday evening, a crowd of family members walked up to the traffic box right near where Holden had been walking with his bike. They laid down flowers, candles, super hero figures, balloons and stuffed animals.

Brett and other family members taped pictures and messages to the box. Holden's family placed frames with his picture near the ground, next to the lit candles.

"He was someone who had an incredible smile, was someone who was never in a bad mood, he was always so happy," Brett said, of what he'll remember about his son. "Little dimples, very energetic, always wanted to play."

Janna Curtis, Brett's wife and Holden's stepmother, said Holden had been walking to the corner store with his bike because he wanted Tootsie Rolls when he was hit and killed.

Just like any kid, he loved candy and riding his bike. Janna and Brett described how Holden called everyone around him his "friends," how he loved to solve math problems, and how sweet and in tune he was with other people's feelings.

"We’re finding comfort that he was too good for this world. He touched so many lives in such a short of amount of time, that his mission was done here," she said. "That’s how we’re coping and finding comfort, and trying to move through this process, as difficult as this is."

Brett said he hopes the man responsible, 56-year old Carl Wayne Johnson, gets the full extent of the law.

"I have no animosity, and that’s hard to put into words," Brett said, getting choked up. "But I don’t have any hard feelings towards him. It was an accident. He made his choice, and I know that he will be judged accordingly."

Janna questioned why Johnson was driving, when he has prior DUI convictions.

"How do you stop that? I don’t know if there’s a good answer," she said. "How do you stop someone with that many DUIs from being on the road? Especially, you always think of, be careful for DUIs at night. But it's like, this was in the morning. And it's just, that’s terrible. That breaks my heart."

Both Brett and Janna's family stood in a circle around the memorial, at times embracing each other with tears.

At one point, everyone bowed their heads for a family prayer. Janna said they wanted to dedicate that spot to Holden.

Brett focused on his love for his son, and the support from family and friends.

Janna's brother brought a Christmas tree to the memorial site, and everyone set it up with lights and pictures of Holden. They said Holden loved Christmas.

In the same spot where their little boy said goodbye to the world, they said goodbye to him.

"He’ll be missed. That we love him," Brett said. "And for those that are watching, to hug your kids extra tight for us. No parent wants this, but we know that we’ll see him again and we can’t wait."

A GoFundMe is set up to help the family. Learn more by clicking here.