Five young ballet dancers who were badly injured in a violent hit-and-run in Seal Beach are receiving community and family support, while the search for the suspect who fled the scene on foot after the crash continues.
Surveillance footage released by the Seal Beach Police Department shows the moment a man in a gold 1987 Mercedes Benz 300 blew through a red light on Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street on Feb. 11, striking the sedan carrying five teenage girls.
All five of the victims, members of Premier Dance Arts of Los Alamitos, had been dancing together earlier in the day and were on the way to a dinner reservation when they were hit.
After the crash, they were all rushed to the hospital. Four of the girls had been knocked unconscious by the sheer force of the impact.
“For a long time, we’ve been in these girls’ lives, and they’ve been in our lives,” Renee Kim, one of the owners of the dance studio told KTLA.
Renee and David Kim opened the dance studio last year, but have been teaching some of the girls for much longer than that, most notably two of the girls, Rhyann and Camille.
“Camille and Rhyann…part of the reason that we built this studio was for them and with them, and we were teaching them out of our garage for many years,” David said.
The two girls sustained the most serious injuries from the hit-and-run crash.
Rhyann’s mother, Rosanna Diaz, said her daughter was sitting behind the driver.
“I believe she took the full impact,” Diaz told KTLA. “I was shocked. I couldn’t believe anybody was going that fast, didn’t have any intention of slowing down.”
The crash broke all of Rhyann’s ribs, punctured her lung and shattered her pelvis.
“I do want to get back to the studio as soon as possible, but I do need to make sure that I’m taking care of myself,” Rhyann said.
Both she and Camille are still hospitalized.
“She’s determined to get better,” said Rhyann’s mom. “We don’t know what that looks like and how long, but she’s a fighter and she’s a warrior.”
The owners of the ballet school have organized a GoFundMe campaign to help cover the costs of medical expenses for all five of the young dancers.
As for the hit-and-run suspect, Seal Beach police say they are still actively investigating the situation. Authorities say the suspect is a man between 18 and 20 years old, around 5 foot 10 inches tall, and was last seen wearing a maroon-colored t-shirt.
Police have been able to locate the registered owner of the Mercedes, which was left at the scene, but they do not believe that person was the driver of the hit-and-run vehicle.
Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact the Seal Beach Police Department.