HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Last summer, 15-year-old Hector Padilla was hit by a car and left for dead while riding his bike in Hazleton.

In anticipation of an upcoming court date for the person charged for his death, friends and family gathered in Hector’s honor Sunday continuing their call for justice.

Emotions are high as we get closer and closer to the sentencing as the family wants to make sure justice is served.

A crowd of Hector Padilla’s family and friends congregated at the corner of East Elm and South Poplar Streets in Hazleton.

They prayed for peace and justice for the 15-year-old (pictured below), whose life was cut short in a fatal hit-and-run last Summer.

They are for justice like me. They took my son’s life, the only kid I got. So they take my son’s life and they take my life too so all I need is justice for my son,” said Carmen Padilla, Hector’s mother.

On the evening of June 12, 2021, Hector was riding his bike down South Poplar Street when he was hit by a white pickup truck. The driver did not stop and the hector later died at the hospital. Hector was only in ninth grade. His family describes him as kind and responsible.

“When it was Hector’s funeral, all the teachers from Heights Terrace were there with support and we were like ‘oh my god I thought he was going to be a troublemaker but no, he was there, he was a good friend he was a good student,” said Katie Ovalles, Hector’s Aunt.

About a month later, 38-year-old Gabriel Hernandez Mendez came forward as the driver. According to court documents, he turned himself into Hazleton police with the assistance of former Hazleton Police Chief and now Private Investigator Frank Deandrea.

Hernandez Mendez was originally charged with homicide by vehicle, accidents involving death or personal injury, and failing to stop and render aid. In March, two of the charges were dropped and he now faces one count of homicide by vehicle.

“Everyone in this Hispanic community is concerned about what happened with Hector Padilla. We want that the people that got the justice in their hands, they give justice to Hector,” said Victor Perez, President, Dominican House of Hazleton.

With Mendez’s sentencing approaching, Hector’s loved ones say they want people to remember what happened to Hector.

“We want to let them know, people didn’t forget what happened to hector. People are here present to remind them we’re going to be waiting we’re going to keep an eye on Tuesday because we need justice for the child that they took away from us,” said Ovalles.

Gabriel Hernandez Mendez will be sentenced before Judge Vough at the Luzerne County Courthouse on Tuesday, April 26, at 3:00 p.m.