Aaron Tuneberg
Aaron Tuneberg (Courtesy Photo)

Hundreds of new cars are in Colorado this week for the Denver Auto Show, and Abraham Paetow was planning to make the trip downtown with his good friend Aaron Tuneberg to see them.

But an event Paetow was looking forward to for weeks is now just a reminder of what he's lost.

"It's going to be too hard to go," Paetow said.

Tuneberg, 30, died Tuesday after police say he was beaten by two 18-year-olds during a robbery at his Boulder apartment last week. The two suspects — Austin Holford and Luke Pelham — have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Tuneberg, who was developmentally disabled.

But in the days since his death, friends said Tuneberg's disability never held him back in life, or from his passion for low-rider bicycles and classic cars.

Paetow met Tuneberg through mutual friends, and found out they shared those passions.

"We just started talking and both found out we like low riders and old cars," Paetow said. "We would go to car shows all the time."

If you go

What: Aaron Tuneberg memorial service

When: 12:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Har HaShem, 3950 Baseline Road

Paetow's wife, Stephanie, said they often would make their way from their home in Longmont to spend time with Tuneberg in Boulder.

"We went there and hung out with him quite a bit," she said. "He and my husband love low riders and muscle cars, so they would ride bikes and go see 'Fast and the Furious.'

"He was a very sweet, very polite man. He was always sweet to us girls, pulling out chairs and opening doors for us."

'All the cruisers loved him'

Tuneberg's passion for cycling is also how Aaron Dew met Tuneberg, as they both rode in Thursday night cruiser rides.

"He was just a nice guy enjoying life, and he didn't let his disability stop him," Dew said. "All the cruisers loved him."

Dew is a farmer in Longmont, and said Tuneberg would stop by his tent when he went to the Boulder Farmers' Market and exchange fist bumps with all the farmers.

Aaron Tuneberg Memorial Fund

Proceeds will be used to support the community and people living with disabilities. To donate, mail checks to Aaron Matthew Tuneberg Memorial Fund, c/o Morgan Stanley, One Boulder Plaza, 1800 Broadway, Suite 120, Boulder, CO 80302

Dew said Tuneberg even rode to his farm off Jay Road a few times, including once to help Dew after the September flooding.

"He never asked for any money," Dew said. "I offered to pay him, but he just said, 'Hey man, we're friends, it's good.' He was a really caring guy."

Dorina Martinez said Tuneberg was like a big brother to her and an uncle to her 5-year-old daughter.

"We always hung out at the Pearl Street Mall with him," she said. "He was a really sweet person and he got along with everybody. When I was feeling down and stressed, I would always call him up and talk to him about it, and when he was feeling down, he would call me.

"We could talk about our problems with each other."

'We kept praying and hoping'

When the news broke that Tuneberg had been hospitalized on March 31 following the robbery and assault, the Paetows said they just prayed that their friend would be able to wake up.

"I just thought of all the fun times we had, and I was just hoping he would pull through and that we could have some more fun times," Abraham Paetow said.

Aaron Tuneberg Memorial Ride

A memorial cruiser ride will take place at 7 p.m. April 24 beginning at Scott Carpenter Park at 30th Street and Arapahoe Avenue. The theme for the night is "Pimp Your Bike," in honor of Tuneberg, who decorated his low-rider bike.

But the days passed and Tuneberg did not wake up.

"We kept praying and hoping, but we knew the injuries were pretty severe," Stephanie Paetow said. "But we kept praying and hoping."

But at about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, Tuneberg passed away.

"I broke down in tears and fell on the floor screaming and crying," said Martinez of the moment she heard the news.

Just like Abraham Paetow and the Denver Auto Show, Dew lamented that he would never be able to share another experience with Tuneberg.

"I just bought a new tractor, and I was so excited to tell him about it," Dew said. "I was really hoping to get him out to the farm more. It just breaks my heart. The farm is going to miss him. He would just show up and talk to us."

'I'm going to miss him'

A memorial service to celebrate Tuneberg's life will be held 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Congregation Har HaShem, 3950 Baseline Road.

A memorial fund in Tuneberg's name also has been established, with proceeds going to support the community and people living with disabilities. Checks can be made to Morgan Stanley at One Boulder Plaza, 1800 Broadway, Suite 120, Boulder CO 80302.

A cruiser ride also has been organized to honor Tuneberg at 7 p.m. April 24, starting in Scott Carpenter Park at the corner of 30th Street and Arapahoe Avenue.

"The ride will be to honor somebody, a good friend of ours," Dew said. "He was a really good guy, and I'm going to miss him."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329, byarsm@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/mitchellbyars.