The crash happened just before 6 p.m. Friday near Santa Ana Boulevard and Watts Avenue. Officials say Jose and Anjelica Arreola were crossing the street along a crosswalk when the driver of an SUV rammed into them and took off.
Jose Arreola died. His daughter was rushed to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, where she remains in a coma and is listed in critical condition.
"We're just hoping and praying for her," said the girl's mother, Erika Arreola.
Arreola told Eyewitness News that the three of them were leaving an afterschool program when the SUV ran over her daughter and her husband.
Erika Arreola said her husband and Anjelica were a few steps ahead of her in the crosswalk. She said her husband saw the Escalade racing toward them and grabbed their daughter, trying to protect her and took the brunt of the impact as a result.
Investigators say the car, described as a pearl white Cadillac Escalade, sustained damage to the right-front fender and grill. Authorities describe the driver as a heavy-set Latino man with short hair and a goatee. He was seen wearing a white T-shirt with a big gold necklace. Detectives said he fled west on Santa Ana Boulevard.
"It was an accident, I know, but when you make an accident, you stop and you try to see how you can help," Arreola said.
Anyone with information that could help investigators is urged to call Los Angeles County CHP at (323) 259-2010.