Hit-run driver kills victim in Hemet; driver sought

HEMET, Calif.

The family of Paul Vavao is looking for answers. The 23-year-old died on October 20 after he lost control of his car was ejected, and then struck by an SUV. The SUV driver didn't stop.

"Nobody blamed them at first but now it's to the point where this is just completely wrong," said sister-in-law Heather Vavao.

Vavao's family is pleading for the public's help identifying the driver of the SUV. Police believe the vehicle, a GMC model, was damaged during the impact. Vavao was taken to Hemet Valley Medical Center, where he later died.

"His dad and I got to tell him that we love him and then he passed away about 15 minutes after," said Paul's mother, Sheli Vavao.

She says at first she felt bad for the driver, knowing that the person likely didn't see her son on the dark stretch of roadway. But as days turned to weeks, she became angry.

"We're not vengeful people, but I just felt like somebody should come forward," said Vavao.

It's been a month since the tragic accident and all there is left is a memorial to serve as a reminder.

"It will never be the same. I don't know how we are going to get through the holidays or even this situation," said Heather Vavao.

But the heartbroken family is staying strong for Vavao's 3-month-old infant daughter Saige.

"We put Christmas decorations up 'cause he always did them for me," said Sheli Vavao. "We did them together and I know he'd want me to that for his baby."

Vavao's family will keep his memory alive through photos and stories. For now they pray the driver of the SUV will come forward and help them move past the tragedy.

A reward is being offered for information about the SUV or driver. Contact Valley Crime Stoppers at (866) 640-8477.

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