The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a hit-and- run driver who fatally struck a man and injured two other people waiting at a Koreatown bus stop.
At a City Hall news conference, police identified the suspect as 38-year- old Fredy Mendez, who was identified with the help of witnesses. Mendez may have fled back to his native El Salvador, officials said.
Police said they believe Mendez was behind the wheel of a Ford F-150 truck that ran a red light at Beverly Boulevard and Normandie Avenue around 6:40 a.m. July 28. The truck collided with Toyota Camry and careened off the road, hitting three people at the bus stop. The Camry wound up colliding with a BMW X3, police said.
Javier Hernandez, 45, was at the bus stop and was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people, a 46-year-old woman and 35-year-old man, were critically injured.
The driver of the Ford pickup fled the scene on foot.
“It seemed to me that he was on his way to work, he might have been running late,” Los Angeles police Detective Martha Dominguez said. “I think he panicked once he saw the pedestrians on the floor and Mr. Hernandez pinned against the pole and the truck. And I think that’s what caused him to flee.”
Dominguez said she hoped the reward will help bring Hernandez’s family “some justice and closure.” Hernandez was married with two children.
“We lost him and, unfortunately, whoever did it is still out there,” Hernandez’s brother-in-law, Pasqual Martinez, said. “… We’re doing this because we want justice.”
Martinez said Hernandez was his family’s “sole provider.”
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the area where Hernandez lived, said as long as the suspect remains at large, he is “a threat to the general public.”
“I would implore the public to get involved if you’ve seen or heard anything about this incident and any other incident,” he said. “We really, really need to be better as a society and we need everybody to pitch in.”
— City News Service