A 35-year-old woman surrendered Wednesday and was booked on suspicion of felony hit-and-run for allegedly leaving the scene after striking a pedestrian with a Tesla and leaving him fatally injured in the Pico-Union area.
Vanessa Gutierrez of Los Angeles surrendered at about 2:30 p.m. at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Traffic Division, according to Detective Moses Castillo.
Emilio Perez, 38, appeared to be pushing a cart in the area of Olympic Boulevard and Lake Street around 10:45 p.m. on Nov. 21 when he was struck by a light-colored Tesla Model 3, police said. Perez never regained consciousness, Castillo said. He died at a hospital on Nov. 25 as a result of blunt force injuries, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
Perez was homeless when he was injured, having been estranged from his family for a number of months, Castillo said.
After the crash, investigators released video of the collision and images of the actual Tesla and one similar, and someone spotted the car in the 1800 block of South St. Andrews Place in the Harvard Heights area west of Pico-Union, according to Castillo.
By the time police reached the witness, that person reported that a female had arrived and put a cover on the car. The vehicle had been rented, but not by Gutierrez, he said.
Gutierrez, who had been identified by investigators as a person of interest in the case, is believed to be the one who covered the vehicle, the detective said.
She had come to the Central Traffic Division around midnight looking for Castillo and then returned later in the day to surrender, according to the detective, who credited media coverage and the public response for raising the pressure on Gutierrez to turn herself in.
Security video obtained by investigators showed the driver abandoning the Tesla and getting into another vehicle about an hour and 15 minutes after the collision, Castillo said. Video also showed the Tesla being covered, he said.
Castillo described the woman as remorseful and said she only compounded her trouble when she left the scene of what may well have been deemed a non-criminal accident, provided she was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: