On September 10, 2008, the parents of 3-year-old Marten Kudlis buried their son at Fairmount Cemetery, after he was killed, while waiting for his ice cream in a Denver-area Baskin and Robbins.
An SUV speeding through the intersection of Havana and Mississippi in Aurora, with Guatemalan national Francis Hernandez at the wheel, slammed into a pickup truck, which was then pushed into the ice cream shop’s window. The toddler was sitting at a table in front of that window, and was sent flying as the truck came crashing through it.
After the crash, Hernandez jumped from his Chevy Suburban and fled the scene. He was later apprehended without incident.
Marten was taken to the hospital, but died a short time later due to massive internal injuries.
The two women in the pickup truck struck by Hernandez were Patricia Guntharp, 49, and Debra Serecky, 51. They were both pronounced dead at the scene.
The Denver Channel covered the child’s funeral and reported that the first song heard during the service was Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”
In a heart wrenching display of grief and anger, Marten’s mother Marat Kudlis shouted: “That bastard!, referring to the illegal immigrant who killed her son. Between the tears, Marten’s father cried out: “I really loved him.”
The rabbi conducting the service told the heartbroken family and friends: “This burden feels like more than we can bear because it is so sudden. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. It does not seem fair and it is not fair to lose someone so young.”
A teddy bear was placed in the tiny open casket which held Marten’s body.
Following the funeral, many of the mourners returned to the crash site, which has become a makeshift memorial, filled with flowers, stuffed animals, and cards with expressions of sympathy and support for the Kudlis family.
One of those mourners, Duane Stokes, told a KMGH reporter: “I helped pull Marten out of the building. I was right there with him. He squeezed my hand. I held his hand until he passed on. My fiance and I were just saying a prayer to Marten and just getting one last glimpse of everything around here. Just to say goodbye to him.”
Marten’s death hit the community hard and his funeral was attended by many people who never met him, but were both saddened and angered by his senseless death.
Hernandez who had no less than 12 aliases and two dates of birth, had been arrested 19 times since 2003. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation also confirmed that Hernandez had been arrested by nine different police departments. Despite his lengthy arrest record and illegal status in this country, Hernandez was never deported nor were deportation proceedings ever started against him.
The police report shows that after Hernandez ran from the scene and phoned his girlfriend, Brenda Aleman, asking her to come pick him up at a local Hooter’s restaurant.
A court document reads: “(He) stated after the accident he was scared and fled the scene, he was afraid he would be taken to jail because he had no insurance, no driver’s license and that would prevent him from seeing his kids.”
At the time, Hernandez and Aleman had an infant and a 2-year-old.
It should be noted that Denver is officially a ‘sanctuary city.’
A few days after the deadly crash, Colorado Republican Congressman and former presidential candidate Tom Tancredo said that then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, as well as then-Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter “have blood on their hands.”
While both Hickenlooper and Ritter have long-been criticized for their opposition to tough enforcement of our immigration laws, Ritter tried to deflect any attention from his office onto the federal government and called Tancredo’s comments “out of bounds.”
Rep. Tancredo issued the following statement:
While it might be politically expedient to blame Washington for what happened this week or to characterize my criticism of him as ‘out of bounds,’ the fact remains that Gov. Ritter is in charge of enforcing and keeping Coloradans safe. It’s time for Gov. Ritter to take concrete steps to ensure that illegal aliens like Francis Hernandez, who had been apprehended by police more than a dozen times, end up behind bars, not back behind the wheel.
In 2010, Hernandez, was found guilty on 19 charges, including vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident involving death, and child abuse resulting in death. The illegal alien was sentenced to 60 years behind bars.
You can learn more about the human cost of illegal immigration in “No Safe Places: Death at the Hands of Illegal Aliens.”