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Teen hit by car on New Year's Eve declared brain dead

January 2, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A teenage skateboarder has been declared brain dead after being struck by a hit-and-run driver on New Year's Eve in Lake Elsinore.

Gerardo Garcia, referred to as "Jerry" by family and friends, was riding his skateboard to his girlfriend's home Saturday evening when he was struck on Lake Shore Drive and Avenue 6.

The 19 year old was declared brain dead at Inland Valley Medical Center.

"The hospital is keeping him alive at this point until family members arrive and make decisions regarding organ donation," said Capt. Dave Fontneau of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Investigators said the lack of skid marks on the pavement indicate the driver did not attempt to brake.

Witnesses told investigators the driver of a light-colored Honda drove away, leaving Garcia by the side of the road. Investigators said the Honda may have a modified muffler and front-end damage.

The victim's family is pleading for the public's help finding the driver.

"My son is dead and as a mother I need help so justice can be done," said Garcia's mother, Rosario Hernandez.

Garcia and his sister, Cynthia Aguilar, had planned to ring in the new year together.

"We are all going to miss him," Aguilar said. "He was everything to us. It is going to take a while to even think in my head that he is gone. To me he is still here."

Investigators are also hoping the driver of the Honda will come forward.

"It is terribly tragic," Fontneau said. "The first thing I'd like to tell them is to turn themselves in. Come forward, it may not even be their fault. At this point, the investigation is ongoing."

Aguilar also asked for the driver to turn themselves in.

"He can run away, hide from us, but he can't hide from God," she said. "God is going to make justice. He is going to find him soon and all we want is for him to take responsibility for his actions."

Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at (951) 776-1099.