Just hours after a man was fatally struck in a hit-and-run in Lancaster, his loved ones held a candlelight vigil in his memory as authorities continued searching for the driver Saturday.
The incident happened while the victim — identified by his mother as 22-year-old Rodney Richard — was standing on Lancaster Boulevard near Elm Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He was talking to the occupants of a black sedan parked by the curb.
A “full-size” white truck, believed to be a Chevrolet or Dodge, was traveling east in excess of the 15 mph speed limit when it hit him, the agency said.
The truck’s driver stopped before allegedly speeding away toward Sierra Highway.
According to witnesses, the driver of the black sedan also left the scene. Bystanders did not manage to take the license plate of the truck, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Richard was taken to a hospital, where he died, authorities said. While law enforcement officials have not released his name, family members identified him to KTLA.
Surveillance video of the crash shows him trying to run away just before being hit by the large truck. Witnesses said Richard appeared intoxicated and had just been kicked out of a nearby business.
“I think they should’ve just made sure he got home, in a cab,” Cedric Burton, his uncle, said.
During the vigil later on Saturday, dozens of balloons in his favorite color of blue were released into the sky. A graduate of Desert Sands Charter High School, Richard was close to his sisters as one of the girls described him as “a major part of our life.” She said the hit-and-run driver “just took away that.”
When his mother heard about him being hit, she assumed he had only been injured, as she told KTLA.
“I thought that she could take him to the hospital and I’d pick him up,” his mother, Michelle Burton, said. “But when we got here, come to find out he was dead.”
His uncle, Eric Burton, described him as a good person and said the driver should’ve stayed and tried to help.
“I watched him grow up and everything. He became a good young man and I know who hit him — it was just an accident, but you could’ve stayed at the scene, tried to render help,” he said.
His mother agreed, saying, “I’m very furious, I’m very angry.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Richard’s family pay for funeral expenses.
In addition to the truck’s driver, detectives hope to find the witnesses in the black sedan.
Anyone with information can call the Sheriff’s Department’s Lancaster station at 661-948-8466. Those who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers by calling 800-222-TIPS (8477), using the mobile app “P3 Tips” or visiting lacrimestoppers.org.
KTLA’s Steve Granado contributed to this report.