Who was dominic d?

It started out like a normal summer day.

On July 28, 2022, Michael “Dominic” DePalma, 17, slept in, then hopped on his xBox to play with his friends for a bit. It wasn’t long before he was out in his front yard, teasing his 10-year-old sister, while she and her friends choreographed a dance. Soon Dominic’s cousin and best friend showed up in his Mazda Miata. Since he had been visiting his grandpa in Boston for the last month, Ronan, 19, couldn’t wait to whisk Dominic away to catch up while eating tacos for lunch.

Dominic came home, showered, then began negotiations with his parents to get to go out. Thursday wasn’t a usual night for Dominic to leave. However, his mom looked at the calendar and realized that between upcoming soccer tryouts, a family trip to Florida, and a wisdom tooth extraction, Dominic had five nights of summer left. After helping him match his clothing choices to the brand new white Nikes he bought with his own money, she followed him to his car, their daily routine, and thanked him for discussing which colleges they planned to tour. She told him to be safe, and reminded him how much she loves him.

He nodded, grinned, told her he loved her, and at 3:17 p.m., Dominic backed out of their driveway…for the last time.

Late that afternoon, Dominic met up with some kids who had experienced a very different day. Boulder District Attorney Bradly Turner described, “a day of drinking and doing drugs.” Fatefully, Dominic accepted a ride, not fully knowing what the driver of the car he was about to enter was significantly impaired.

His last text to his parents was at 6:06 p.m. Dominic’s feet left the ground for the last time at 7:09 p.m. for a four minute drive. At 7:13 p.m., the 17-year-old driver, with 0.096% Blood Alcohol Content and THC in his system, ran a red light. His vehicle was struck by a FedEx semi-truck. The two teens in the front seat walked away; two passengers in the back suffered life-threatening injuries, and Dominic did not survive.

The juvenile driver pleaded guilty to Vehicular Homicide (F3), and two counts of Vehicular Assault (F4). The juvenile was sentenced to 24 months probation, and 120 days of work release. The work release sentence imposed by the Court required the individual to remain housed at the jail at all times except when actively working at sites approved by the Jail.

Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) Superintendent Dr. Rob Anderson stated in his pre-graduation email to the high school community, “The lives of everyone impacted, including the DePalma family and the driver, will never be the same — all because of a decision to drive recklessly and under the influence.”

Dominic joined the BVSD community as an 8th grader at Aspen Creek K-8 School. As he became a Broomfield Eagle, he really began to spread his wings. In his first few weeks, Dominic stated, “high school is so much better than I ever imagined.” The Class Clown in him didn’t want people to know how naturally brilliant he was. Sitting in class or walking down the hall, Dominic had a reputation of lightly tapping a person’s shoulder until they turned around. They both laughed hysterically, and Dominic made sure to catch every moment on video. He came home from school sporting events hoarse from cheering so fiercely. He made up for missing COVID Spirit Weeks by donning outrageous costumes once these activities recommenced.

Dominic had earned a place on Broomfield High School’s varsity soccer team. Here is how Broomfield Soccer Coach Zach Hindman described him:

“On the soccer field, Dominic had a brilliant disposition that you just don’t see often in boys his age. He had a perfect combination of confidence and humility, grace and power. Important to the team, yet also kind and nurturing, he had an impact that guys don’t usually understand until they’re older. Dom intimidated his opponents. This year was his year to flourish.”

Dominic’s incredible impact has spread from the soccer field, infiltrating an entire community of kids, teachers, coaches, and parents. More than 17 community events, 6 corporate sponsorships, and 2 scholarships, including the Dominic DePalma Memorial Scholarship, are keeping Dominic’s legacy alive.

While other parents dressed up their kids in caps and gowns, held celebrations, sent out announcements, and made senior posts on social media, Dominic’s family started their mission to create a safer community for Dominic’s little sister, Eleana, who is now 11 years old.