DEPEW, N.Y. (WIVB) - It was an emotional day for the families touched by a heartbreaking hit-and-run in Lackawanna that killed 14-year-old Bryce Buchholz last May.
Twenty-four-year-old Michael Ettipio sat crying in court on Thursday, tearfully apologizing for drinking, driving and killing the young teen. As he apologized to the Buchholz family, you could hear Bryce's parents weeping.
"I am so very sorry. I understand if you hate me. But I hope some day I can earn your forgiveness," Ettipio said.
Bryce's father, William, acknowledged the apology, saying he'd forgive, but not forget.
"When I saw him, I saw a blue tube sticking out of his mouth, scrapes on both of his hands, his left leg swollen. I didn't look under the garment to see it. But I felt his arm, and it felt cold. I knew he was gone," he said.
Ettipio wiped away his own tears, listening to the tremendous pain and hurt he's caused.
William continued, "I couldn't help but thinking about the things he was going to miss... high school proms, Lancaster football games... never even had the chance to drive a car yet. The boy who wanted to experience life and everything it had to offer was gone."
News 4 obtained this surveillance video showing the moments before Ettipio got behind the wheel. In these foreshadowing moment, the focus was on his friends.
But Ettipio said, "I made the decision to drink on May 3. Nobody forced me and I made the decision to drive. Because of my decisions, Bryce Buchholz is gone forever."
The District Attorney released surveillance video Thursday of Ettipio falling over drunk at the Forest View Restaurant in Depew and then walking in circles trying to find his car the evening of the accident.
In the video, Ettipio can be seen in the background, wearing a #12 jersey. He falls to the ground in the beginning of the video. Later, the video shows what looks like him buying a round of shots. The end of the video, shown in black & white, shows Ettipio circling the parking lot, in what seems to be him looking for his car.
The DA said he chose to release the video to show the community that by simply doing nothing when someone is drunk and when someone chooses to drink and drive there are tragic consequences.
Ettipio walked out of court cuffed and crying. He'll spend up to three years behind bars. Judge John Michalski revoked Ettipio's license for one year and will be forced to have an ignition interlock device for five years, once he's again able to drive.
Buchholz's family has a civil case pending against the restaurant but the DA can't legally prosecute the business criminally.
If you would like to help the Buchholz family in their quest to build a bike park in Bryce's honor, follow this link.
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