The crash happened at about 10:30 p.m. Friday on Woodruff Avenue, just south of Mann Street.
The victim, Michael Kunkle, was crossing the street when he was hit. Police said the impact was so strong it knocked him out of his shoes.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
"It sounded like two cars hit each other, it was pretty loud," said Troy Fodor, who lives nearby. "At first I thought it was a car accident. I looked out the window, I saw someone just laying there. When I jumped out, the SUV that hit him took off."
Fodor said the SUV has a shattered windshield and a broken left headlight.
Kunkle's family is asking for the public's help in tracking down his killer.
"No one should have to die on the street like this," said his sister-in-law, June Kunkle.
If you have any information regarding this hit-and-run, call Downey police at (562) 904-2339.