Officials on Wednesday announced a $50,000 reward in their search for a driver who fled a crash that left one person dead and critically injured two others at a busy Koreatown intersection in July.
During the announcement, authorities identified Fredy Mendez as the alleged driver who was involved in a multi-vehicle crash. Mendez was accused of running a red light in a Ford F-150 pickup truck at Beverly Boulevard and Normandie Avenue (map) on July 28.
The truck slammed into a Toyota Camry, which then careened into a BMW X3 that was stopped on Beverly Boulevard, according to a news release from the Los Angeles Police Department.
As a result of the collision, the pickup truck ran off the road and struck three pedestrians who were waiting at a bus stop. The driver fled on foot, leaving the truck at the scene.
One of the pedestrians, identified as 45-year-old Javier Hernandez, was pronounced dead at the scene. He had pinned between the truck and a pole, an LAPD detective said.
The other two, a 46-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man, were critically injured and taken to a local hospital.
Hernandez left behind a wife and two children. At the scene of the crash in July, Hernandez's niece described the family's shock.
“The wife, she’s just destroyed. There’s no words to describe how painful this is,” Estela Martinez said. “He was the one who was sending money for them, for the kids ... Now, who’s gonna be there for them? Who’s gonna be there for the wife, the kids? Who’s gonna support them?”
Family members of the victims and Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell announced the $50,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the hit-and-run driver during a 10 a.m. news conference at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
Hernandez's relatives pleaded for the public's help Wednesday, saying they want "justice."
"We lost him. And, unfortunately, whoever did it, he's still out there," said Hernandez's brother-in-law Pascual Martinez. "That person will strike someone else, and he will keep going."
Mendez ran from the scene and never identified himself or stopped to render aid to any of the victims, according to police.
Investigators believed Mendez was running late for work and may have panicked when he saw the pedestrians who had been struck, LAPD Detective Martha Dominguez said.
Mendez was described as being 38 and from El Salvador. There's a possibility he fled to his native country, police said.
Mendez was being sought on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter.
The drivers of the other vehicles were not injured in the crash.