On September 4, 2008, in Aurora, Colorado, little 3-year old Marten Kudlis was sitting at a table by the window in Baskin-Robbins waiting for his mom to bring him and his buddy ice cream. Patricia Guntharp, a mother of three, and her friend, Debra Serecky, a mother of six, were turning into the parking lot in a Mazda pickup truck driven by Patricia.
Behind the wheel of a GM Suburban, illegal alien Francis Hernandez, 25, ran a stop light at more than 80 mph, over twice the posted speed limit. The large SUV struck the pickup and forced both vehicles through the front of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream store.
An injured witness compared the impact of the vehicles to a “bomb going off.” Three year old Marten was caught on a jagged piece of metal debris which made a large gash in his neck causing him to quickly bleed to death. The two women in the pickup were killed instantly by the impact. Additionally, in the ice cream shop, Haley Tepe, Margaret Raines, and Nimra Bulhari, 10, were injured.
Duane Stokes, an ex-firefighter, heard the accident and came running to the scene where he tried to save the little boy. After a short time, Marten squeezed his hand and then drew his last breath, “I just want the community to know...parents to know, he didn’t die alone,” Stokes said.
Police say Hernandez ran away from the scene of the carnage he had just caused but he was arrested a short time later and charged with:
3 counts of vehicular homicide
3 counts of hit & run
Single counts of reckless driving and vehicular assault
No valid operators license
No proof of insurance
During the investigation it was discovered that Francis Hernandez was an illegal alien from Guatemala and that he had 19 prior arrests, mostly in the city and county of Denver. Authorities said Hernandez avoided deportation by using 12 aliases and two dates of birth to slip under the radar of immigration officials.
Marten’s father, Eddy Kudlis and his younger brother emigrated to the U.S. in 1981 with their mother from Belarus, a former Soviet state between Poland and Russia. The family lived in Brooklyn for 25 years before coming to Colorado. Their mother died in July 2007 of cancer, followed by their stepfather a few months later. Little Marten is now in the Fairmount Cemetery.
Jurors found Francis Hernandez guilty of vehicular homicide and other charges. He was sentenced to 48 years in prison.
By Carlos Illescas
The Denver Post, April 6, 2010
AP, February 23, 2010
Overwhelmed by grief
By Mike McPhee
The Denver Post, 09/11/2008
By Rick Sallinger
CBS4, Sep 5, 2008
Aurora, ICE at odds on suspect-status inquiry
By Tom McGhee
The Denver Post, 09/09/2008