A 34-year-old woman spoke out Wednesday as she recovered from injuries she was left with after being run over by a driver who was fleeing downtown Los Angeles in a stolen vehicle earlier this year.
Bota Zhamysbayeva suffered a shattered pelvis, a broken arm and multiple facial injuries when she was struck while walking in the area of Seventh and Figueroa streets around 8:35 p.m. Feb. 20 — the day she says changed her life forever.
The hit-and-run collision happened after a man stole a 2001 Toyota Tundra from the area and was driving away from the scene, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The young woman was crossing the street while taking an evening walk to CVS, when the pickup truck came barreling towards her.
She told KTLA the last thing she remembers was seeing lights and a vehicle approaching “out of nowhere” before she woke up in the emergency room.
Witness Ezell Gibson said he saw it happen.
“He took off, ran the red light, hit the lady that was crossing the street, and she flew up in the air and hit the ground,” Gibson said. “We all ran to go see how she was. She wasn’t even talking, she was just moaning, hurting,” he said.
Paramedics responded to the scene and took the woman to a hospital, where she was admitted with severe injuries.
The hit-and-run driver later ditched the truck a short distance away from the crash site, in the area of Bixel and Ingraham streets. Using DNA evidence left in the truck, detectives identified the suspected driver as 30-year-old Tajon Wright Freeman, according to LAPD.
Zhamysbayeva said she is still suffering from pain and anxiety, and has had a hard time sleeping since the hit-and-run. And to make matters worse, she ended up losing her job as a caretaker because of her injuries.
She recalled one of her first thoughts after waking up in the hospital bed: “I wish it didn’t happen to me.”
Zhamysbayeva said she kept thinking that if she just hadn’t made the decision to walk to CVS, she wouldn’t have ended up in the path of the fleeing driver.
But now, she said she’s trying to focus on her recovery, and has gone from being angry to just hoping for justice.
“He has to take responsibility for what he did because… it was someone’s life,” she said.
In a “wanted” flyer posted Tuesday, Freeman was described as being 5 feet, 11 inches tall, weighing about 150 pounds with tattoos on his chest, arms and neck. Police said the suspect is homeless and is known to frequent MacArthur Park and the Metro Redline system.
LAPD warned the public not to approach Freeman, saying that he is considered to be armed and dangerous.
Anyone who spots Freeman is urged to immediately call 911. Those with information can contact LAPD Central Traffic Detective Campo at 213-833-3713 or firstname.lastname@example.org.