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Tattoo shop hosting fundraiser to help family who lost two members to DUI crash

<i>KCNC</i><br/>A Denver tattoo shop is having a fundraiser to help a family dealing with the loss of a mother and her son.
A Denver tattoo shop is having a fundraiser to help a family dealing with the loss of a mother and her son.

By Conor McCue

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    DENVER, Colorado (KCNC) — A Denver tattoo shop is having a fundraiser to help a family dealing with the loss of a mother and her son.

The crash was last Wednesday night on I-25 near Castle Rock. Family has identified the victims as mother and son Amber Villareal and Elijah Villareal of Aurora.

“Our family is definitely devastated,” said Salome Perlman, Amber’s sister. “They cared about everybody no matter what.”

At Endless Ink Tattoo and Piercing in Denver, each work of art has its own beauty and meaning, but this week, each poke comes with a newfound purpose too. Owner Jazzmin Kennedy said the idea for the fundraiser came from her daughter, who is grieving the loss of her half-brother Elijah Villareal.

“She didn’t know what to do, and I wanted to offer what I can do through the tattoo shop,” Kennedy said.

Last Wednesday, Amber, Elijah, and two others were pulled over on the shoulder of I-25 near Castle Rock because of an issue with a tire. According to Colorado State Patrol, a trooper came to help, but an alleged drunk driver struck them minutes later.

Troopers later arrested 47-year-old Michelle Branch on suspicion of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me,” Perlman said. “For life to just take you by nature, that’s one thing, but for an incident that’s occurred like this, it’s tragic.”

According to Perlman, Amber was a proud mother who loved family time, drawing and writing poems. 18-year-old Elijah was spunky and smart, with plans to study robotics engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.

Now both are gone, and their remaining family members are asking for donations, so the proceeds of every 3-inch by 3-inch tattoo at Endless Ink will go to them for funeral expenses and other upcoming costs.

“It would really just allow them to grieve properly, let them not worry so much about what day-to-day things they need to do,” she said.

As one artist said Tuesday, the fundraiser is a way for the community to chip in and get something beautiful too.

“Two lives are not going to be coming back because someone chose to do that,” Kennedy said. “All we can do is help the two lives still remaining.”

The fundraiser at Endless Ink will continue until Oct. 31.

The family also a GoFundMe page to collect donations as well. The goal is to raise $20,000.

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