Family, friends and former high school classmates gathered Tuesday to remember a 24-year-old man who was headed home on a scooter after celebrating his birthday when he was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver.
Tommy Sanchez, who had recently moved to Hollywood, was on Western Avenue north of Sierra Vista Avenue at around 2:30 a.m. when he was fatally hit by a driver in a black sedan who failed to stop, identify themselves or render aid, according to police.
“I haven’t processed the fact that he’s no longer with us, but I’m doing my best to go little by little,” Tommy’s father, Javier Sanchez, told KTLA’s Rachel Menitoff.
The victim’s mother, Yerlin Catalan, was unable to hold back tears as she spoke to KTLA.
“My son passed away, it’s not fair,” she said. “My son needs to be alive because he’s only 24 years old.”
Dash-cam video from a nearby Uber captured footage of the 24-year-old and his friend turning left when he was fatally hit and fell to the ground.
Tommy’s stepmother, Ana Sanchez, was asking why anyone would fail to stop after hitting a person.
“If it was an accident, I forgive the person,” she said, “But the fact that you left our child to die there without rendering aid. How did they do that? How do you walk away from that?”
The eldest of six siblings, Tommy played football at Burbank High School and is remembered as a loyal friend to many.
“The days I got to spend with him and get close to him are memories I’m never going to forget,” Jamie Giammichele, his friend, said.
His father said Tommy’s smile said it all and that the young man valued his family and maintained long-lasting friendships, which was evident in the crowd of people who came to pay their respects.
“He was a blessing for us and we’re devastated by the situation,” his father said.
His family, who have organized a GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses, believes the black sedan likely sustained damage and they are hoping someone will come forward with more information.
The black sedan, which fled north on Western Avenue, is believed to be a Mitsubishi Eclipse convertible made between 2001 and 2005.
Anyone with information about this collision is asked to contact detectives at 213-473-0234. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477)