A Santa Rosa family struggling to deal with the death of their young son killed by a hit-and-run driver last week have returned to the crosswalk crash site several times, drawing strength from the growing memorial being tended by neighborhood children.
"The parents and the sisters just felt a sense of relief that all those sweet little neighborhood kids were so actively, essentially holding vigil, really tending to the memorial, taking flowers, making sure the balloons stayed up, that no one took anything," said Patrick Shandrick, uncle of 4-year-old Christopher "Buddy" Rowe.
"That has just been a source of just astonishing support," Shandrick said.
Jim and Michelle Rowe lost Buddy on Friday following surgery. He was hit Thursday evening while crossing West Ninth Street and Rockwell Place with his mother and two sisters as they were headed to soccer practice at a nearby field.
Monday afternoon the couple tearfully walked into the Sonoma County Courthouse to see the young man suspected of hitting their son.
Marcos Lopez Garcia, 22, postponed entering a plea to three charges — felony hit and run causing a death, misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, and driving without a license.
He was arrested within hours of the collision Friday after the car suspected in the collision was spotted and police were ultimately led to Garcia.
The Rowes did not comment at the courthouse but issued their first statement Monday on the crash.
Buddy Rowe had struggled to stay alive during hours of surgery Friday. "But his heart finally gave way," they wrote in the statement.
"Little Buddy will be remembered as an energetic, curious, active young boy who was also kind, compassionate and caring especially with his twin sister," they wrote.