The incident occurred on the 500 block of South Euclid Street just after 5 a.m.
According to detectives, Joseph Rudolph was jaywalking when he was struck by an SUV. He landed on the hood of the vehicle and was carried about 30 yards before being thrown off. The driver then sped off.
"Five o'clock in the morning, there's no reason to go anywhere. I don't know in his mind where he was going," said the victim's son, Anthony Joseph. "I'm still in shock... I couldn't believe it because there was no reason for him to get out."
Santa Ana police say the suspect, later identified as Michael Truong Pham, 33, of Garden Grove, was taken into custody in another city.
Investigators say he called family members and told them he had just been involved in an accident. His family advised him to call police, which he did. After he informed Santa Ana police of his location, officers arrived and took him into custody. Pham will undergo a drug and alcohol test to find out if he was under the influence at the time of the accident.
Pham, 33, was booked on suspicion of felony hit and run, but he could have avoided the charge if he had remained on the scene of the collision, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.
"Had he stayed he wouldn't be facing any charges, but he left now he's facing a felony charge," said Bertagna. "Obviously, you need to stay at the scene, you need to render aid, you need to identify yourself. Those are all things that are required by law. Leaving somebody laying in the street is not something that you should do."
Rudolph, who suffered from dementia, was well known in his neighborhood.
"It's a tragedy, it shouldn't have happened," said Mary Chayette, a Santa Ana resident.
Authorities say there have been nine fatal vehicle-pedestrian incidents in 2013 to date in Santa Ana. There were seven such incidents in all of 2012.