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Family mourns loss of son killed New Year's day

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 20:41:09-05

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A pedestrian was hit and killed just hours into the new year. Now his family is speaking out, wanting to know what happened and why the driver isn't charged with DUI.

Geoffrey Velez was only 20 years old. His family told KGUN9, just days ago, they were looking forward to celebrating the new year. Now they’re in mourning.

His mother, Olga Vazquez says she and her family are inconsolable.

“It’s an unbearable pain because he was my life. He was my son,” she told KGUN9 in Spanish.

A pain she and her daughter Alejandra Ramirez say, they feel to their core.

“It’s just the worst possible news you could hear on the first day of the year, when you’re hoping that it’s going to be a good year,” said Ramirez.

His family says Geoffrey was full of life. He loved making people smile, was kind to others and most of all they say he loved spending time with his friends and family.

“I wanted to see him grow older. I wanted to see him accomplish things and have his own family. He had a full life ahead of him,” added Ramirez.

Family members tell KGUN9 Velez had a couple of drinks on New Year’s day and didn’t want to drive. His cousin April Wallace told KGUN9, his choice to not go behind the wheel was admirable-- making his death a tragedy.

“It’s unfair that unfortunately he made the right decision to walk because he was so considerate of other people. He was not going to put himself or other people in danger. That’s why he chose to walk,” said Wallace.

The sheriff’s department says Velez was in the roadway when a car hit him. Deputies arrested 30 year-old Maurice Williams on manslaughter and DUI charges. The DUI charges have since been dropped. Now the family is demanding answers.

“We want to find out what’s going on. Why that happened. We want justice of course,” said Ramirez.

Now, while they wait, they remember their last memories with Geoffrey. His aunt Maria Lavin told KGUN9 she feels blessed to have gotten to see him right before Christmas.

“He hugged me and told me how much he loved me and how happy he was to spend time in my home,” Lavin added.

As the family mourns, they hope Geoffrey knew just how much he meant to them.

“I loved Geoffrey a lot and I just hope he knew how much we loved him,” said his sister Alejandra Ramirez.

His mom, Olga Vazquez, has three final words for her son: I love you

KGUN9 reached out to the Pima County Attorney's Office.

The dropped DUI charge was based on factors such as smell, bloodshot eyes, and an admission from the driver that he had shots a few hours earlier.

However, deputies say the Preliminary Blood Test (PBT) came back right at the legal limit of .08 so they removed the charge.

The Pima County Attorney's Office is not able to comment on whether a DUI charge could be added later.