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Driver arrested in crash that killed teen

December 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The driver in a crash that killed a teen and injured three others near South Gate Middle School has been arrested.Police believe 18-year-old driver Eduardo Rojo was high on a chemical inhalant. They released surveillance video that they say show him buying cans of Dust-Off at a Target store just before the accident happened.

Rojo has been booked on suspicion of vehicular homicide. He is set to be arraigned on Thursday.

Investigators had initially believed mechanical failure caused the black Chevy van to swerve out of control on Monday afternoon at Firestone Boulevard and Otis Street. The van slammed into a bus stop where 14-year-old Luis Salazar was waiting, killing him and injuring three other teens.

South Gate police met with parents on Wednesday at South Gate Middle School to reassure them that their kids are safe, and to explain that it was an isolated incident and out of administrators' control.

Parent Lidia Velasquez said it is frustrating as a parent to know this could have happened to her 12-year-old girl.

Some parents said they take comfort knowing that the driver was arrested as they mourn the death of the 8th grade student.

The sidewalk where Salazar was killed is covered with flowers and notes from friends. The victim would have graduated from South Gate Middle School in the spring. Salazar loved soccer and music, and friends and family said he was taken from them too soon.

"Luis was also a son, he was a brother, he was a friend, and his family's never gonna have him back," said the victim's aunt Veronica Cencion.

"Even if this guy goes to jail, no matter what sentence they give him, his family's gonna still have him around. His family can still see him; his family can still talk to him on the phone; his family can still contact him through a letter. Luis' family can't," she said.

The passenger in the black van is still in the run. He apparently jumped out of the van and fled while the driver was knocked out immediately after the accident.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call the South Gate Police Department at (323) 563-5400.


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