LONG BEACH, Calif. (KTLA) –– A man in a wheelchair was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street in Long Beach, and the tragic crime was caught on tape.
55-year-old Robert Diaz broke his spine in a fall in 1985 and was confined to a wheelchair, but he never let that slow him down or get him down, his family said.
“He was very witty, very funny, outgoing,” his son, Jason Diaz, said. “He could poke jokes at anybody. He could make fun of you, make fun of himself. He remained very optimistic.”
This past Sunday at 5:30 p.m., Diaz was attempting to cross Artesia Boulevard at Rose Avenue.
As Diaz was in the crosswalk, he was hit by a speeding driver. With Diaz clearly seriously hurt, it looked as if the driver was going to do the right thing and stop.
“The driver of the vehicle pulled around the corner and stopped… got out as if he was going to come back to the scene,” said Long Beach police Sgt. Aaron Eaton.
“When officers who were in the area went to check on that particular driver, he fled and left,” Eaton said.
The car is described as a silver, four-door sedan, possibly a Honda Civic or a Nissan Altima with front end damage.
Diaz was rushed to a nearby hospital, but his injuries were too severe and he died on Monday.
The Diaz family is now pleading for the public’s help bringing the hit-and-run driver to justice.
“We know that my dad is in a much better place, and he’s out and about walking, playing football, doing all the things he used to do,” Jason Diaz said.
“He’s in a better place, but down here we still need justice, and this guy needs to be held accountable for what he did,” he added.
The driver is described as a Latino man in his 30s, about six feet tall and 190 pounds with black hair.
He was wearing a white shirt and jeans at the time of the accident. Anyone with information is asked to call Long Beach police.