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The four people critically injured in a North Hills hit-and-run that killed a father of two on Father’s Day are now in stable condition while the search for the driver continues, police said Wednesday.
Maritza Joana Lara is seen in an undated driver's license photo released June 18, 2019, by the Los Angeles Police Department.
Maritza Joana Lara is seen in an undated driver’s license photo released June 18, 2019, by the Los Angeles Police Department.
Investigators believe alcohol was likely a factor in the deadly collision, which happened when a sedan was speeding north on Haskell Avenue before running a red light at Parthenia Street and slamming into the driver’s side of an SUV. The crash occurred about 5:35 a.m. Sunday. Francisco Hernandez Rivas, driver of the SUV, was pronounced dead at the scene. The 48-year-old North Hills resident was the father of two teenagers, Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Andrew Neiman said. “That’s going to be a memory they will never forget every Father’s Day,” he said. Maritza Joana Lara of Van Nuys has been identified by police as the driver of the sedan and is seen on surveillance video walking away from the scene without trying to help any of the victims. The 27-year-old has a prior DUI conviction and has not been seen since the incident, authorities said. The critically wounded victims include four passengers inside the white 2016 Lexus IS 250 Lara was driving. Police described all four as being in serious but stable condition by Wednesday morning. The Nissan was left flipped upside down on a front lawn after the Lexus collided into its driver’s side door and sent it skidding off the street. Among those injured in the Lexus were a woman who is seven months pregnant and the suspect’s sister. Lara was identified as the suspect after investigators spoke with passengers inside the Lexus. Surveillance video shows her briefly trying to open a rear door of the sedan before taking off.
Officials assess the scene of a deadly crash in North Hills on June 16, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)
Officials assess the scene of a deadly crash in North Hills on June 16, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)
“We’re assuming she was trying to get some of the passengers out, but they were so injured they can’t get out of the car,” LAPD Detective Lisa Fuentes said. There was “obvious evidence there had been some drinking going on in the vehicle,” Fuentes said. Footage of the scene shows empty beer cans inside the Lexus, which belongs to a relative of Lara and remains in police custody. Fuentes said alcohol was still being investigated as a possible cause. Lara was last seen walking away from the scene east on Parthenia Street, officials said. She remained at large Wednesday morning. “There was someone that was killed that day. You walked away,” Fuentes said. Authorities said she lives just a mile from the crash site in the 8000 block of Langdon Avenue in Van Nuys. Information leading to a conviction in the case carries a reward of up to $50,000 as with all L.A. hit-and-run investigations. Anyone with information can reach LAPD Detective Andrew Sinclair or Detective Lisette Fuentes at 818-644-8035. Police can also be reached at 877-527-3247 during non-business hours and anonymous tips may be forwarded by calling 800-222-8477 or visiting Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the location of the four injured passengers and misidentified a victim as a suspect. The post has since been updated.