A Virginia family is in mourning after a 2-year-old boy was accidentally run over by his father in their driveway.
Bairon Alexander Zapata was identified as the victim in Monday’s heartbreaking incident, according to a GoFundMe page set up by the boy’s aunt, Monica Gudiel.
“Our hearts are heavy to announce the tragic passing of little Bairon,” Guidel wrote. “A parent should never have to go through the pain my cousin/sister and her husband are going through losing their toddler in a very tragic way.”
Fairfax County Police confirmed in a press release that the accident occurred outside of the boy’s home in Fairfax on Monday evening around 6:45 p.m.
Officers who arrived at the scene found the 2-year-old boy “suffering from serious injuries” and pronounced him dead a short time after, according to the release.
Detectives said they later determined that the boy’s father had been backing his 2005 Ford F350 out of their driveway when he struck his son with his truck.
Speaking to Telemundo 44 following the incident, the grieving father said he had no idea that his son was outside.
“I put him inside and told him to stay inside and he said, ‘OK, Daddy,’ but I didn’t realize when he came out again,” he told the outlet through tears. “It was too late when the [truck accident] happened later.”
The boy’s mom, Kelly Castillo, said his 4-year-old sister witnessed the fatal accident, according to NBC affiliate WRC-TV.
Police are currently investigating the incident but do not suspect foul play and confirmed that alcohol was not a factor in the crash.
In the wake of the tragedy, loved ones have been finding comfort in remembering Bairon, who went by his shortened middle name, Alex, according to Telemundo 44.
“My boy was a happy boy,” Castillo told the outlet of her son, who would’ve turned 3 in October. “Just on Sunday, we went to a river to spend the whole day with him as a family.”
Added his aunt, Iris Zapata: “He was very happy. When we were around him, he would say, ‘Why are you serious? I came to play with you all.'”
On the GoFundMe page, Gudiel said Alex was “full of life… always laughing and captivating many hearts.”
“He impacted many lives with his smile and way of being such a sweetheart in his short life,” she continued. “We are left tonight with countless memories that we will hold on to forever.”
Gudiel said she set up the GoFundMe to help her nephew’s family with funeral expenses. So far, the page has raised over $14,000.
“His sister awaits tonight for her little brother to hug her once more,” she wrote. “We thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers during this challenging time. Our hearts remain broken as we grieve this tragedy.”
As they continue to grieve, Alex’s family is also urging parents to take precautions with their little ones to prevent similar tragedies.
The organization, Kids and Cars, estimates that at least 50 children are run over by vehicles each week – 70% of which involve a parent or close relative behind the wheel.
“Please take care of your children,” the boy’s father told Telemundo 44.
In order to prevent these accidents, Kids and Cars recommends installing cameras in the back of vehicles and locks at the top of doors, ensuring that children are supervised every time someone arrives or leaves the house, and checking around the car before backing up.
What a tragic story. We pray this family is able to eventually find peace.