Nathaniel Mota, 16, was in a crosswalk on Normandie Avenue near 42nd Street when he was struck by a car at about 8:30 p.m. Friday. The teen had just left a youth group meeting at St. Cecilia Catholic Church, where he was an usher.
The vehicle fled the scene of the accident. Police say they're looking for a four-door white Nissan Maxima with possible front-end damage.
Investigators say several of Mota's church friends and family members witnessed the horrible incident. Loved ones describe Mota as a nice young man who had a bright future ahead of him.
"I had a wonderful son. He was going to be 17 on Wednesday," said Lissette Mota, the victim's mother.
"He was always there to help, always caring," said Delmi Massella, the victim's cousin. "He had the best hugs...that you just can't describe. And unfortunately, in a heartbeat, it's gone."
The news has his closest friends heartbroken.
"He was always there to give you big hugs; that was one thing everybody remembers. He always gave big hugs to everyone. He always asked how you were feeling," said Gabriel Ganez.
"This is very sudden and tragic for me," said Brandon Williams.
Nathaniel's family and friends blame the intersection for their heartache. They say they've been pushing for a traffic signal at the corner of Normandie Avenue and 42nd Place for years now.
The victim's mother believes flashing lights are a must for the dangerous intersection.
"I just want to make sure that all the politicians, everybody who is listening, will do something," she said. "It will be a blessing for my son to have a safety zone, so that what happened to him won't happen to anybody else."
Nathaniel was religious, a star pupil and a great friend, but most of all, he was a loving brother and son.
"I thank God because he was coming from church, and that's a blessing," Nathaniel's mother said. "I know he's with God, and that's all that matters."
Anyone with information about the car, driver, or any other aspect of the case, was asked to contact the Los Angeles Police Department at (877) LAPD-24-7 or (877) 527-3247.