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Roderick ‘Kito’ Jackson, National Grid worker killed in crash, mourned at vigil in Cambridge

Family members and friends light candles at a vigil for Roderick Jackson, a National Grid worker killed in a crash on a roadside job site in Waltham on Wednesday.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

CAMBRIDGE — A vigil at Hoyt Field Saturday evening honored Roderick Jackson, the 36-year-old National Grid worker killed in a devastating crash on a job site that also claimed the life of a Waltham police officer.

Police officers from Cambridge and Waltham and Jackson’s fellow union members from Boston Gas Co Workers Local 12003, commingled with Jackson’s boyhood friends, family, and neighbors on a handball court to remember the fallen worker.

Mourners lined up and took turns placing candles at the base of a bright, swirly-patterned graffitied wall so that the tall glowing glass holders spelled out “Kito,” Jackson’s nickname since childhood given to him by his mother.

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“Everybody who knew him called him Kito,” said Brandon Shelton, 37, a friend since high school. “No one called him Roderick.”

Shelton remembered Jackson as a football and basketball player at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and “a jokester” with “good energy.” They last saw each other at a friend’s baby shower about seven months ago.

“Everybody liked him,” said Shelton, who now lives in Stoneham. “Everybody got along with him. He always lit up a room.”

According to authorities, Jackson was killed late Wednesday afternoon after a driver barreled into a utility work site on Totten Pond Road in Waltham where he and two other National Grid workers were repairing a possible gas leak.

A National Grid helmet and protective vest was laid at the memorial for Roderick Jackson, the utility's worker who was killed Wednesday when a driver crashed into a work site. Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

Waltham Police Officer Paul Tracey, the detail officer assigned to the work site, was also killed. The other two workers were injured. The driver, a New Hampshire man with a history of mental illness and police chases, is facing two counts of manslaughter and other charges.

Jackson’s death has been felt deeply in his Cambridgeport neighborhood, where hundreds turned out on a cold night to remember him.

A relative from New York addressed the crowd largely in Spanish, leading them in prayer and promising justice.

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In moments of English, she addressed the family’s pain and remembered Jackson’s uniqueness.

“It’s hard. It hurts. It’s painful,” she said. “God is the only one that’s going to heal that pain that we have right now. God is going to do justice.”

Jackson was an “amazing” and “loving person,” she said. “There was only one Kito, nobody else is going to take his place.”

Some in attendance exchanged solemn hugs and greetings and condolences.

Mourners embraced during Saturday night's vigil for Roderick "Kito" Jackson, the National Grid worker killed when a driver crashed into a roadside job Wednesday in Waltham. Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

Thomas Morris, 55, of Cambridge, said he worked with Jackson off and on for a couple of years and was a fellow member of Local 12003.

“He was a good kid,” said Morris, who attended the vigil with several coworkers. “He loved life. He liked to have fun but he was a hard worker also. He was always at work making money.”

Jackson’s grandmother, Aura Edwards, 80, thanked the crowd for coming out.

“I thank everyone for supporting us,” said Edwards, whose blue house sits on a corner next to Hoyt Field. “He is resting now.”

When Edwards referenced the “unfortunate accident,” Jackson’s tearful mother interjected.

“You need to correct that,” Norma Asprilla said. “Murder of my child. We need justice.”

“What do we need?” someone asked.

“Justice,” the crowd said in unison.

Mourners wore buttons remembering Roderick "Kito" Jackson during Saturday night's vigil in Cambridge. Nathan Klima for The Boston Glob

Artishia Dottin, 50, lives next door to Edwards and runs a child care business with Jackson’s mother.

Dottin attended the vigil with her nephews, ages 3 and 6.

“In Cambridge, everyone’s a big family,” Dottin said. “Kito’s my baby too. This is felt all around. We’re all connected.”

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Tonya Alanez can be reached at tonya.alanez@globe.com. Follow her @talanez.