Video released in search for driver in deadly South L.A. hit-and-run who allegedly returned to scene as onlooker

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Authorities released surveillance video Friday as they search for the pickup driver who struck and killed a woman using a walker to cross the street in the Broadway-Manchester area of South Los Angeles earlier this month.

Maria Mata was crossing Main Street, just north of 98th Street, at about 5:50 p.m. on Feb. 2 when a truck that was traveling fast south on Main slammed into her, said L.A. police Detective Ryan Moreno.

The 66-year-old woman was taken to a hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries, officials said.

Mata lived right around the corner and was walking home to her husband when she was killed. A few days after she died, her husband also passed away, according to Moreno.

The pickup, meanwhile, had continued south down Main and made a quick turn onto eastbound 98th Street, toward San Pedro Street, Moreno said.

Over the past few weeks, detectives have collected enough video to piece together the truck’s path across 14 miles before and after the collision.

“What was alarming is that when we were watching the video, we were looking at the where the suspect went,” Moreno said. “We believe we have the suspect parking down the street a few blocks away, and we actually got video of him walking to the scene and standing as an onlooker.”

The detective says the driver stayed at the scene as an onlooker for about five minutes before getting into his truck and again fleeing.

From there, the truck made its way to a Food 4 Less at the corner of Central and Rosecrans avenues in Compton.

The driver is seen going inside the store and into the alcohol area. It appears he wanted to buy hard liquor, which is in a locked container, but he left after speaking with a clerk, Moreno said.

Investigators next tracked the truck to the area of Avalon and Compton boulevards in West Compton, and they’re still looking at more videos from that area, Moreno said.

“We would prefer he turned himself in, we’d like to talk to him,” he said. “But we’re asking for the public’s help in trying to identify this guy.”

Police believe the truck traveled from the area of 51st and Normandie streets in Vermont Square before fatally striking Mata.

From canvassing the area, Mata says detectives believe the driver is known by locals, as people said they’d seen the truck around.

The pickup is described as an older, two-door model, possibly a Chevrolet Silverado. It has a long bed that looks equipped to collect scrap metal or recyclables, Moreno said.

As with any hit-and-run that results in serious injury or death in L.A., a $50,000 reward is tied to information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

Anyone with information can contact Detective Moreno at 323-421-2500, or call 877-527-3247 after normal business hours. Anonymous tips may be submitted via 800-222-8477 or www.lacrimestoppers.org.

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