Robert Falcon dressed Ethan Hernandez in a tiny black suit with a white shirt and a tiny black-and-white bow tie. He placed him in a tiny white casket with golden angels guarding each corner, and he helped the boy’s family lower the 3-year-old into a tiny plot in a cemetery in South Austin.
Falcon, a longtime funeral director, said he has helped bury many children — but few have haunted him as much as Ethan Hernandez.
The boy was killed Sunday in a hit-and-run accident — and his accused killer is still at-large, police said.
That’s why Falcon penned an open letter earlier this week, urging the suspect to come forward.
“My conversation was with one person,” the funeral director told The Washington Post on Friday. “I wanted that one person to see the post, I wanted that one person to see the photos, and I wanted that one person to turn himself in.”
Falcon, who owns Affordable Burial & Cremation Service, posted the letter Wednesday, following Ethan’s funeral.
“I want you to see these pictures and I want you to know how much it pains me to know that you would run over a child and not stop to render aid,” Falcon wrote. “What a careless act. I had to listen to a mother and father cry and bargain with God today because you took their son from them.
“I hope you can forgive yourself and do the right thing and turn yourself in and take responsibility for the actions you took on Sunday.”
Falcon, who knows Ethan’s family, said the boy’s parents met with him Monday to make the funeral and burial arrangements. He said the boy’s family held an all-night vigil Tuesday night at a church in South Austin and buried him Wednesday afternoon.
Falcon told The Post that after 30 years in the funeral business, “I’ve seen things that are extremely unfair.”
But he especially struggled to watch Ethan’s parents bury their son.
“One of the most difficult tasks of a funeral director is to care for someone who has lost a child,” he said, adding: “One of the worst fears you have as a parent is to lose a child.”
He said the most upsetting thing is that a child was killed, and no one said a word.
So when he returned from Ethan’s funeral Wednesday, he said, he started writing.
“I have seen to the care for this child from the time I picked up his body from the Medical Examiner’s office and prepared his body,” he wrote Wednesday on Facebook. “I dressed him in a little black suit, white shirt and bow tie and placed him in a little white casket surrounded by angels. I was there when his mom and dad saw him for the first time yesterday and wept with them. I was the last to see his body before I closed his casket this afternoon and took him to his place of rest. I did this because of You!
“You know who you are. I have done my duty, now do YOURS and turn yourself in.”