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Willowbrook fatal hit-and-run: no arrests

April 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police are trying to track down a driver involved in a deadly hit-and-run accident near a Willowbrook elementary school.

Anjelica Arreola, 7, remains in a coma and on a ventilator at Long Beach Memorial Hospital, as doctors try to reduce the swelling in her brain.

The Ritter Elementary School student was crossing Santa Ana Boulevard with her father, Jose Arreola, last Friday when they were struck by a white Cadillac Escalade. Jose Arreola was declared dead at the scene, leaving behind his wife and three children.

"He died trying to save her life," said the girl's mother, Erika Arreola, who saw the entire incident. She was only a few steps behind.

The deadly accident happened next to the school in the crosswalk. Students and their parents passed by the memorial on their way to class on Monday morning, but some friends of the young girl took a detour to avoid the scene of the accident.

Parent Blanca Salazar says the issue of cars speeding down Santa Ana Boulevard was addressed at the PTA meeting just two days before the accident. She said at the meeting, parents had asked school officials, "Should we have to wait until something major happens, until tragedy occurs?"

Now, parents want a stop sign installed at the intersection of Santa Ana Boulevard and Watts Avenue.

Neighbors and Ritter Elementary parents are collecting money to help the Arreola family. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa chipped in when he arrived for a pre-planned event at the school.

"We'll talk to the county about what, if any, remedial measures can be made to ensure the safety of the kids here, but it's not actually in the city of Los Angeles," Villaraigosa said.

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. Investigators say the Escalade sustained damage to the right-front fender and grill.

Anyone with information that could help investigators is urged to call Los Angeles County CHP at (323) 259-2010.


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