Teen victim’s uncle speaks message of mercy amid DUI tragedy

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Candles still burn at a memorial outside the home of a 17-year-old who died early Saturday morning. But at least one family member wishes mercy upon the man some say is responsible.

Around 2:20 a.m., Granby High School student Jacob Chavez was in the passenger’s seat of a vehicle driven by 22-year-old Luis Suazo-Walto. The wreck happened on Chesapeake Boulevard, near Fisherman’s Road.

Walto was arrested at the scene and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, according to the Norfolk Police Department. Police said Walto was speeding when he lost control and drove off the roadway into a tree.

Outside Chavez’s home, 10 On Your Side spoke with his uncle, Will Bernardez. He said Chavez was a well-liked and well-rounded kid who he will miss very much.

“He’s got that down-to-earth, humble [and] comedian sense of humor,” he said.

While the entire family is heartbroken, Bernardez is hoping a judge gives the driver mercy.

“No matter what happens to [Walto], it ain’t going to bring my nephew back,” Bernardez said. “I wouldn’t want anything to happen to him. He’s 22. He’s young. It’s not like he did it intentionally. So, I’m not going to blame everything on him.”

Walto appeared in court for his initial appearance Monday. He could possibly face additional charges after the Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney’s Office reviews the case. Walto is expected back in court Feb. 17.

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