DUPLIN COUNTY - The 20-year-old driver who was at the wheel during a fatal crash last month spoke out for the first time on Tuesday.
Troopers say Edwin Alvarez, of Albertson, was traveling west on Outlaw Bridge Road in Duplin County, near Beulaville, on August 17th.
That's when Alvarez failed to yield and turned in front of a truck that was traveling south on Highway 111, according to the Highway Patrol.
Francisco "Chico" Zuncin, 16, who was in the passenger seat of Alvarez's car, died as a result of the crash.
"If I could bring Chico back to life I would," said Alvarez. "Even though if it took my life."
Family members say Chico and Alvarez have been friends for years. Alvarez said that Chico was like a brother. "We love Chico, and we're going to miss him really bad," said Alvarez.
Troopers say Alvarez sustained serious injuries to his head after the crash. "I don't even remember being in the hospital," said Alvarez.
Family members say over 400 people attended Chico's funeral, including Alvarez.
"I touched his heart, and I was crying over him," said Alvarez. "I didn't want to believe that he was gone."
On Monday, Alvarez was charged with operating a vehicle without a license and failure to yield. Troopers say District Attorney Ernie Lee is currently determining whether Alvarez will also be charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.
That's something that Chico's family does not support.
"I know he was a good friend for my son," said Rene Zuncin, Chico's father.
Family members say Chico's brothers remain close friends with Alvarez. Zuncin says Alvarez is always welcomed at his home.
"It's not that he wanted to do it, it's just an accident, something that happened, and nobody can do nothing about it," said Zuncin.