Ray Luiggi and Carmen Hagios are expecting hundreds of their son’s friends, family, classmates, doctors and nurses to attend Nico Luiggi’s celebration of life on Saturday.
“We want to make this for the community, because there’s been a lot of grieving in the community, and not just in our house,” Ray Luiggi said.
The 13-year-old Hamilton International Middle School student and Queen Anne resident died Monday, Oct. 22, from a severe traumatic brain injury he suffered in an Aug. 27 rollover collision near Cle Elum that killed one of his friends and injured two other boys.
David J. Cohen, 51, is charged with one count of vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault. The Kittitas County Prosecutor’s Office tells Queen Anne News it could take time before a decision to amend Cohen’s charges is made regarding Nico’s death.
Cohen was driving with the four boys in his Mazda Tribute on Highway 970 when he allegedly attempted to pass another vehicle, left the road and rolled his SUV. Cohen, 51, was the only one in the vehicle who was wearing a seat belt.
“David Cohen was the driver,” Luiggi said. “They were taking the boys out to a one-hour river rafting trip near Cle Elum.”
Cohen’s 12-year-old son, Max, was pronounced dead at the scene. Luiggi said one boy sitting up front is now out of the hospital.
“He did, however, have quite a few injuries,” Luiggi said. “None of the four boys was buckled in, which is why this is such a horrific accident.”
One other boy remains in serious condition at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Washington State Patrol District 6 Trooper John Bryant tells Queen Anne News a collision report has not yet been completed.
The Seattle Times reports WSP believes there is evidence that Cohen was driving under the influence of prescription medication at the time.
“Apparently, toxicology reports take quite some time to come back,” Luiggi said.
Nico never woke up after the collision. He spent the next two months at Harborview Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit.
“There was a lot of hope up front,” Luiggi said.
Nico’s many injuries included a broken shoulder, fractured hip and vertebrae, and a cracked skull. His spleen and appendix also had to be removed, Luiggi said.
“And he recovered from all of that,” he said, “and what he did not recover from, obviously, was the traumatic brain injury.”
While not religious, Luiggi said he and his wife prayed every day that Nico would come out of his coma.
“After week four, the signs looked pretty grim,” he said, the results of a second MRI showing Nico’s condition was worsening.
A viewing for Nico Luiggi will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 27, at Butterworth Funeral Home, 520 W. Raye St., followed by a service.
“He was just very outgoing, and everybody wanted to be his friend, because he was so heartwarming,” Luiggi said. “He was fun to be around, a smart kid, and not afraid to approach kids that were just sitting there and say, ‘Hi.’”
Nico was interested in history, civil rights and environmental issues. He spoke German, and took a class to fulfill a proficiency requirement that would have allowed him to go to college in Germany, his mother’s home country. For his oral presentation, Nico talked about the socioeconomic and political crisis in Venezuela.
“I’m not sure I could even talk about that in English,” Luiggi said.
The Queen Anne teen was also trying to get into Hamilton’s advance drama program, having taken some classes earlier this year.
“One of the things he loved doing all the time was backflips,” Luiggi said. “He was into gymnastics and parkour.”
Luiggi teaches martial arts at the Northwest Jiujitsu Academy, and said he would “drag him along to a lot of classes, and he was really good at it.”
Nico also delivered the Queen Anne & Magnolia News for four years.
“He saved all his money. We actually need to close out his account,” Luiggi said. “He was saving it for college and a car.”
More than 300 people are expected to be at the funeral home on Saturday, including Hamilton students and teachers, and a number of doctors and nurses that cared for Nico at Harborview.
“They just do an incredible job of recovering people from just some of the most amazing traumas,” Luiggi said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up in Nico Luiggi’s name for medical bills and other expenses.
Nico’s mother and father are looking at ways to honor the smart and talented youth, including supporting traumatic brain injury research and campaigns for wearing seat belts.
“We’ve been tossing around different ideas for some sort of foundation,” Luiggi said. “We don’t want to just move on with life and not remember or forget about him.”