A 19-year-old who was killed by an alleged DUI driver in a hit-and-run crash on the 210 Freeway in Azusa on Saturday was remembered by grieving family members as a kind, thoughtful and hard working man.
El Monte resident Justin Romo died after a wrong-way driver collided with his car on the roadway shortly after 3 a.m., according to the El Monte Police Department and CHP Officer Tony Polizzi.
The crash forced the closure of the freeway for several hours while authorities investigated and cleared the scene.
Romo’s 17-year-old girlfriend was injured in the collision and taken to a local hospital, according to CHP. The extent of her injuries was not clear, but according to family, she was expected to survive.
“This is a sad situation, we’re seeing it more and more often,” CHP Sgt. Ron Warrior said of the incident.
Both the driver and passenger of the wrong-way vehicle ran from the scene, according to CHP.
Authorities later arrested 24-year-old Tyler Thompson — the person they believed to have been driving — on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and DUI.
“They caught him, and justice is going to be served,” Romo’s mother, Lupe Garcia told KTLA. “I just hope he gets the maximum time for killing my son.”
Garcia, who is active in Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, said she often warned Romo about the dangers of driving drunk.
Upon being told of her son’s death, she expressed anger and stated that the collision could have been avoided if the driver wasn’t intoxicated, El Monte police said.
The devastating news came as the family was going through financial hardship due to the sole provider recently being restricted from working as a result of a disability, Garcia said.
She added the family didn’t even have money for a funeral.
A memorial fund has been established to aid his family. People who wished to donate were asked to bring a check to any Chase bank addressed to account No. 621355937.
KTLA’s Tracy Bloom, John A. Moreno and Ashley Soley-Cerro contributed to this report.