Authorities are searching for a hit-and-run driver who fatally struck a 14-year-old girl as she walked in a marked crosswalk in San Bernardino Friday morning.
Family members identified the victim as Jade Maldonado and said she was on her way to class at Pacific High School when she was killed.
At about 7:10 a.m., the teen was walking north on Pacific Street at Glasgow Avenue in a crosswalk when an SUV traveling 40 to 50 mph failed to yield and hit her, according to a California Highway Patrol news release.
The female driver of the older model GMC didn't stop to help the badly injured girl and instead fled the scene, the release stated.
Julio Alvarez said he was taking his 13-year-old daughter to school when he witnessed the incident. According to him, there was a male passenger in the SUV.
Alvarez said he spotted Maldonado down in the middle of the road and ran to help her.
"When I got to her there was a car coming, and the only reason he swerved to the side is he saw me, and I put my hand up."
Jade was trying to get up and kept telling Alvarez she couldn't breathe, he said.
"We just tried to keep her comfortable. We were telling her that she was going to be OK, her medics were on the way. I think she blacked out, and then she stopped talking to us."
Maldonado was transported to a local hospital with injuries that were initially described as major and life-threatening. The victim died several hours later, around 1:30 p.m., CHP said in an updated news release.
At a vigil held in her memory Friday night, loved ones described Jade as the center of her family. She is survived by both parents and two younger brothers.
"Everybody's in shock," her aunt Vibi Salcedo said. "When we learned that she had been hit, we thought it was something simple. A broken leg maybe. Nothing could have prepared us for what we learned."
Dylan Walker, a classmate of Maldonado's since the first grade, said she aspired to be a doctor.
"She's one of the most smartest kids in the whole class," Walker told KTLA. "She's really focused and really wanted to go to college."
He said he's anxiously awaiting justice for the person who killed his friend.
"I just hope that they get caught, because that's not something that should ever happen," Walker said. "They should just stop."
According to Salcedo, when Maldonado was 6 years old one of her younger brothers was diagnosed with leukemia, and she donated her bone marrow.
"So she saved a life, and somebody took her life," Salcedo aunt said.
CHP released surveillance video and images of the wanted vehicle, an older model GMC SUV, amid the search for the female driver.
She was described as Hispanic or African American, with brown hair, a heavy-set build and wearing eyeglasses, according to the agency.
A public memorial to honor Maldonado's life is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at Pacific High School, 1020 Pacific St.
Loved ones have also set up a GoFundMe campaign to help raise funds for her funeral costs.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call CHP's San Bernardino office at 909-383-4247.
KTLA's Erika Martin contributed to this report.