A woman who was dragged for three blocks by a hit-and-run driver died Thursday morning in the Florence neighborhood of South Los Angeles, officials said.
Investigators have determined the woman was initially struck while crossing South Central Avenue at East 84th Place around 1 a.m.
“When I arrived at the scene there was an individual that had passed away and was mangled, dead in the roadway,” Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jeffrey Phelps said.
Family members identified the victim as Joan Davis, a 62-year-old homeless woman from the area. She had initially been identified as a woman in her 40s.
Her nephew, Larry Hooks, said he had just informed her grandchildren of her death Thursday evening. He said he hoped the incident would weigh on the driver's conscience and propel them to come forward.
“She was a human being," Hooks said. "She had a life, she had a family, she had kids, she had relatives that loved her, she had grandkids, she had great-grandkids.”
Hooks said he would remember her always smiling and dancing.
The crash appeared to have occurred three blocks from where Davis' body was found. Skid marks on Central Avenue stretched about half a mile.
“From 81st to 84th Place it appears that the individual had been dragged by the vehicle,” Phelps said.
A white van was apparently the first to strike her, and other vehicles may have run her over after.
Emergency crews came and pronounced the victim dead at the scene.
Authorities were unable to immediately determine if the victim was male or female due to the severity of the crash, Phelps said. A coroner sent to the scene later helped with the identification.
Police said they were looking for the driver of the white van, seen in surveillance video from a nearby restaurant. They believe the victim was struck by the van then dragged by a car.
Earlier, Phelps said it was possible the driver was in a truck and didn’t know they had struck the victim.
“We have a lot of trucks that travel on Central,” said Phelps, who described previous incidents where pedestrians had gotten stuck under large vehicles and dragged.
Investigators were unable to find any witnesses at the scene.
No suspect or further vehicle descriptions were available.
KTLA's Juan Flores and Erika Martin contributed to this story.