Orange County man punched in face, dies

TRABUCO CANYON, Calif. Thanksgiving will never be the same for the Hubbard family.

At around 1:40 a.m. Thursday, 27-year-old C.J. Hubbard was leaving Code Restaurant and Lounge in 4200 block of Striker Way in Newport Beach with a friend.

"I got the call that every parent dreads in the middle of the night," said Clint Hubbard, C.J.'s father.

It was the last time his loved ones would see him alive.

"If he saw something that he didn't feel was great, he's the type of guy that would say, 'Hey, this isn't great,' and he might have paid for that," said James Johnson, Hubbard's brother-in-law.

Family members say C.J. had possibly witnessed a man in an altercation with a woman in the parking lot.

C.J. stepped in and was punched once in the face. The impact caused an artery to burst in his brain.

He was rushed to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana where he was declared brain dead.

"While he was on life support, it was clear that one punch had killed him," said C.J.'s father.

According to witnesses, the suspect and Hubbard did not seem to know each other, and officials say a motive for the attack was unknown. Police say the man who hit him took off running and is now at large.

"We have no information at this time with the identity of the perpetrator, and that's essentially why we're asking for the public's help in this matter," said Lt. Scott McKnight of Newport Beach Police.

"I think he should come forward. He needs to face the fact that he killed somebody. He killed my son," said Sheila Hubbard, C.J.'s mother.

C.J.'s sister says her brother was Mr. Popularity. He was a UCLA graduate who worked in commercial real estate. His family never knew this would be his last Thanksgiving.

"He was my best friend, and I'm trying to think how I'm going to make it through without him," said Jessica Johnson, C.J.'s sister.

If you have any information about the suspect, contact Newport Beach Police at 1-800-550-6273.

More than 100 of C.J.'s friends gathered at the hospital when he was taken off life support Friday, and his family said that more than 500 are expected at his funeral next week.

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