A suspect has been arrested in connection with an alleged hit-and-run crash that left a 19-year-old woman dead in Riverside Friday, police said.
Erasto Gomez, 59, was arrested on suspicion of hit-and run causing serious injury or death and manslaughter, the Riverside Police Department confirmed Friday afternoon.
The young woman was driving a Nissan Sentra when she entered the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and Tyler Street around 5:50 a.m. and was broadsided by a full-sized van, according to a police news release. Police initially said the van ran a red light, but that detail was later removed from an updated news release, and surveillance video obtained by KTLA appears to show the Sentra crossing through the intersection after the light turned red.
The Sentra was headed westbound on Magnolia, while the van had been going southbound on Tyler.
After the initial collision, the Sentra collided with an electrical pole in the center median of Magnolia.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
Someone who witnessed the crash told police the van then continued southbound on Tyler. After notifying authorities, the witness began following the vehicle and was able to provide a license plate before losing sight of the van.
Police have not released the name of the victim, but she was identified by close friends as Linda Rodriguez, of Moreno Valley.
Her grief-stricken friends told KTLA they considered Rodriguez to be family, and described the teen as a hardworking student who wanted to finish her college studies. She was on her way to work when the fatal crash happened.
“She said spread joy, nothing but joy and love around her,” said Karina Rivas, who was among a group of friends who gathered at the scene to mourn the deceased teen. “Every person she talked to she touched.”
According to police, the vehicle that struck Rodriguez's car is believed to be a 2001 Dodge van, with a California license plate No. 5XGN087.
That license plate number was used to track down a "person of interest," who was later identified as a suspect in the case.
No additional information was released.
An investigation into the deadly crash is ongoing, and anyone with information is urged to call Riverside police Detective K. Madsen at 951-826-8723.