Los Angeles Police Department officers respond to civil unrest in downtown Los Angeles on Nov. 6, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
A man who died Jan. 12 in Los Angeles after he was struck by three hit-and-run drivers was living on the streets, according to his relatives who held a vigil for him Jan. 19.
The family of Francisco Garcia, 41, told NBC Los Angeles
he was living on the streets and had mental health issues.
“We tried giving him food, water, clothing,” Mr. Garcia’s nephew, Daniel, told the news outlet. “We honestly thought he was going to be coming back to just come back on his feet.”
According to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Mr. Garcia was walking on San Fernando Road south of Montague Street in the Pacoima neighborhood of Los Angeles at about 11:45 p.m. Jan. 12 when he was struck first by a light-colored pickup driving the wrong way. He tried to get up but was struck again by a second vehicle. A third car then hit him and continued driving away.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing, according to the LAPD.
Police have not provided an update about the case since Jan. 17, but will notify the public if someone is arrested, according to LAPD spokesman Tony Im.
However, since Mr. Garcia’s death, several more hit-and-run accidents have occurred in the city, killing at least five other people.
Although the LAPD was not able to provide statistics on whether the number of hit-and-run accidents were increasing lately, Mr. Im said the multiple incidents may be the result of people being distracted.
“We can’t have distracted pedestrians walking the streets and we can’t have distracted drivers,” Mr. Im told The Epoch Times. “That’s when accidents occur.”
Hit-and-Run Deaths Continue
Los Angeles police responded to five more hit-and-run accidents in the 10 days following Mr. Garcia’s death.
A 58-year-old woman was killed in a hit-and-run accident at about 12:45 a.m. Jan. 13
. According to police reports, the woman was hit by a heavy-duty white pickup truck with storage compartments that was traveling south on Van Nuys Boulevard when the driver struck the woman in a crosswalk.
The truck continued south on Van Nuys Boulevard without stopping to help the woman, authorities say.
On Jan. 14
in Los Angeles, a man and woman were struck by a silver 2023 Kia Sorento traveling northbound on Vermont Avenue at 94th Street, in South Los Angeles, at about 11:35 p.m., according to police.
The driver failed to stop and help the victims after hitting them and later abandoned the car on Vermont Avenue a few blocks away, fleeing on foot, the police reported.
Paramedics responded to the scene and pronounced the woman dead. The man was taken to a local hospital in critical condition. Both victims have not been identified, according to the LAPD.
In another hit-and-run incident, a 59-year-old man riding a bicycle on Crenshaw Boulevard south of Stocker Street was killed at about 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17
when a vehicle traveling north on Crenshaw Boulevard hit him.
The force of the impact launched the bicycle airborne, and the victim landed on the roadway. He was then struck by a second vehicle, described as a sedan, traveling north on Crenshaw Boulevard at a high rate of speed, according to the LAPD.
The driver of the first vehicle to hit the man stayed at the scene and attempted to help the cyclist. The second driver continued driving without stopping. The man was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
The next day, at about 1:05 p.m. Jan. 18
in North Hollywood, a man, about 60 to 70 years old, died after he was struck by a white sedan while crossing Vineland Avenue. The sedan was driving north on the street, north of Vanowen Street, when the driver struck the man. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The LAPD is also looking for a suspect vehicle in another hit-and-run on Jan. 19
in Panorama City, about 20 miles northwest of Los Angeles, that killed a woman who was about 60 years old.
Police say a suspect vehicle, described as a lowered black pickup truck, was driving westbound on Roscoe Boulevard at about 6:05 p.m. when it struck the woman who was walking northbound on Wakefield Avenue in an unmarked crosswalk.
The woman was thrown in a westbound direction, landing on Roscoe Boulevard.
The suspect vehicle continued driving westbound on Roscoe Boulevard and turned north on Lennox Avenue without stopping to identify themselves or render aid, police reported.
Paramedics responded and transported the woman to a local hospital where she died of her injuries.
The victim’s name is being withheld pending identification and notification of her family, according to the police.
California Has Most Hit-and-Runs in the US
California has the most hit-and-run accidents in the nation, according to a study
by ValuePenguin, a branch of the national loan company LendingTree that provides consumers with research and analysis about a variety of topics.
The company analyzed fatal hit-and-run accident statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration between 2012 and 2021, the latest year available for statistics.
Researchers found 10.1 percent of all deadly crashes in California involved hit-and-runs during that time—the highest in the United States.
In second place, Nevada recorded 8.5 percent of all hit-and-runs, while the third-highest state, New Mexico, had 7.8 percent, according to the study.
Fatal hit-and-runs have surged across the nation—increasing nearly 90 percent from 1,469 in 2012 to 2,783 in 2021.