GOODYEAR, AZ — It was a bittersweet day for the Goodyear community as eighth-grade promotion was celebrated at Estrella Mountain Elementary School.
A ceremony that took place without one of their own, after 13-year-old Dylan Buensuceso was killed by a hit-and-run driver.
The crash happened on April 26, near Estrella Parkway and Elliot Road, while he was riding his bike home from school.
It’s a reality his mom, Sumi Mathews, is having a hard time accepting.
She tells AB15 she still isn't ready to open the door of his room, and walk in.
“I am broken,” she said.
Sumi is falling apart without her little boy.
“There’s a huge hole in our lives. We can’t begin to know how to fill it,” she said in tears.
Dylan's mom, flipping through the pages of her son’s scrapbook, knowing pictures and memories are all he left behind.
“This is my little boy. He played baseball. He played soccer,” she said with a smile.
Dylan also loved animals.
“This is Pepper, his puppy,” Sumi added.
She also says Dylan’s bunny, Blue, didn't let anyone pick her up but… “Dylan was able to cuddle her,” she said.
“He was special,” our ABC15 crew said in response.
“Yes, he really was. Dylan was a light,” agreed Sumi.
Dylan's mom looking at pictures in the scrapbook that show her son’s beautiful journey, but as she now knows… sometimes that story can tragically be cut short.
“I’m sorry that you don’t get to experience the things you were looking forward to,” she said.
Sadly, the next chapter of Dylan's life is one she will never know.
“I dreamed of who my son would be. And of course of him walking down the aisle,” said Sumi.
13-year-old Dylan Buensuceso was killed by a hit-and-run driver, one block away from his dad’s home.
“I was robbed of everything. The big things, the small things. His presence. Him calling me mama,” she said in tears.
Nearly one month later, on May 19, many gathered to celebrate eighth-grade promotion at Dylan’s school.
“We are going to accept his diploma for him. In his place. Because he worked eight long years to earn it,” said Sumi.
Sumi’s daughter, Celine Buensuceso, joined her mom as they sat in on the eighth-grade promotion at Estrella Mountain Elementary School.
Celine walked up to the stage as they called up Dylan’s name.
She walked across, grabbed the diploma, and walked over to where her mom was sitting. They both looked at the diploma. One that has a picture of Dylan on it.
A bittersweet moment they will remember forever. A life, they will dearly miss.
Sumi says she lost her eldest son, Shan Kem, in a car accident less than one year ago. Her daughter, Celine, is the only child she has left.
“Now she’s an only child. She lost two brothers in the span of eight months,” she said in tears.
A mother’s heart left broken, now hoping both her sons’ memories will live on forever.
“We’re carrying you in our hearts every day,” said Sumi.
Inside the graduation program, those who attended would find a poem Dylan wrote, read by Mr. Daugherty:
“Before summer twas freedom less
During summer come loneliness
Miss my cheery friends
Now with weary hands
Taking company for granted
Stuck in my house running rampant
Too much freedom
My life is lonesome
Time moves slow as molasses
Weather is hot like toxic gases
Bawling in my room
Rotting away till next June
Feeling quite lazy
Honestly going crazy
Gaining weight often
Terribly sad I softened
My cat keeps me company
Sunshine shines like gleamy honey”
There was also a poem inside the program written and read by classmates Katelyn Bons, Ania Heilman, Lucas Mouthey, Okiwa Rangel Arenas, and Sophia Lopez:
“Your smile is like the sun rising high
The golden sun reflection in your eyes
The slight whisper of the afternoon breeze
Until the last day you were seen
Each day and night your memory will grow
And it upsets us that you will never know
No matter how much you mean to us
We will never let you go
You were taken too soon from the ones who loved you
From our start to the finish you will stay with us too
There is still so much left that we could do
Around the clock the memorial swells
The stuffed bears and colorful flowers flow
Letters and candles have gathered in piles
And oh do we desperately miss your smile
You were the greatest friend we have ever had
Even though we’re here standing as grads
This day will never be the way we planned
We love you dear Dylan Buensuceso
We will never forget your name
Forever staying in our hearts
May you rest in peace”
Police were able to track down the suspected hit-and-run driver a couple of days after the crash.
Goodyear police searched a home close to where it happened. Officers then took 44-year-old Richard Romo into custody. Officials say he has prior DUIs and hit-and-runs.
He is facing two felony counts of leaving the scene of a deadly crash.