WEST JORDAN, Utah — A Utah neighborhood put together a touching tribute to honor a 13-year-old boy who was killed in a hit-and-run last week.
It’s been nearly a week since Eli Mitchell was biking home after picking up treats from the store and was hit by a pickup truck. Eli died later that night at Intermountain Medical Center.
Police say 50-year-old Mason Andrew Ohms was the driver who hit him and drove away.
Sunday and Monday night, multiple families in Eli’s neighborhood lined the sidewalk with around 2,000 luminary bags.
Eli’s funeral service was on Monday and the viewing Sunday. Neighbors wanted to do something for his family to comfort them as they drove to and from services.
“It was heartwarming to be leaving the viewing and come home and drive through our neighborhood and see the lights just lining the streets,” said Lacey Marsing.
Some of the bags included notes and pictures for Eli drawn by the neighborhood kids.
“All of our families were trying to figure out what to do with our youth that were grieving the loss of this boy,” said Marsing.
Melissa Carlson said it was a community effort with everyone getting involved to show support.
“We even had people from our community that had lived in this neighborhood before and have since moved away; they even came back and participated, too,” she said.
For some, this was their first time learning that Eli lived streets away.
“I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” said Jay Anderson. “I couldn’t imagine what the parents are going through.”
Neighbors said the plan was to originally have the lanterns on for just a few hours Sunday night. But the image of all the lights was so powerful, they kept it on through the night and turned them on again Monday.
“I thought it was a great tribute to Eli and his family to kind of give them some light, even though it’s a dark time,” said Anderson.
“There’s just no words for it,” said Carlson.
According to Eli’s grandfather, around 900 people watched the live broadcast of the funeral. Some of the first responders who tried to help Eli last Tuesday also attended the service.
In a statement sent to FOX 13 News, Glendon Mitchell wrote:
“Among other speakers, Eli’s parents, Jeremy and Lisa and his sister spoke. Their wonderful messages focused on the attributes of this unique young man, his sense of humor, intellect, and his ability to make everyone feel good. Nearly every speaker had humorous stories of things he had said or done. A primary focus of the service was Eli’s faith in Jesus Christ, that same faith which has buoyed the family during this difficult time and a message encouraging everyone to turning tragedy into triumph and taking something ugly and making it beautiful. The parents expressed appreciation for the kindness, caring and service that has been shown to their family and encouraged everyone to do the same for others. Eli was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Parents Jeremy and Lisa Mitchell, and the entire family, wish to express gratitude again to the bystanders who tried to revive Eli. How difficult that must have been after the accident. The excellent services of the West Jordan Police Department and contact by the Fire Department have been ongoing. We also express appreciation for the great outpouring of support, kindness, and sympathy from the community.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family with the associated expenses.