Driver sought in Tujunga motorcycle crash that left couple dead

TUJUNGA, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A man and woman riding a motorcycle were killed in a hit-and-run crash in Tujunga Friday evening.

Authorities said around 8:30 p.m., a motorcycle driver was heading westbound on Foothill Boulevard while a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe was heading eastbound. The driver of the Tahoe then made a left turn northbound onto Valmont Street when the motorcycle driver crashed into the SUV.

The impact from the crash then resulted in the motorcycle losing control and hitting a parked car.

Firefighters responded to the scene and took the male driver to a nearby hospital, where he died of his injuries. His female passenger was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities said the driver of the Tahoe fled the scene on foot. Authorities seized the abandoned vehicle near the scene of the crash.

The coroner's office identified the woman as 30-year-old Ariane Turek, of Tujunga. Family and friends identified the man as James Bellissimo.

On Saturday night, loved ones held a memorial at the scene of the crash for Bellissimo and Turek, who were engaged.

"If it's any consolation it was a perfect time for them to be together and go together," brother-in-law Ryan McKnight said.

Bellissimmo was a veteran who served in Iraq. American flags were proudly displayed at the makeshift memorial, along with flowers and candles.

The family and friends said Turek was the love of Bellissimmo's life.

"I've known him for years and I've never seen him like that. He definitely found his soulmate and a person to share his life stories with," McKnight said.

He added that he appreciates the community support during the family's time of need.

"Everybody out here, everybody's been so nice. We've been getting phone calls non-stop so this was a very beautiful gathering," he said.

McKnight also thanked the first responders who did everything they could to try and save Bellissimo's life.

As part of the city's hit-and-run program, a $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the identity and arrest of the suspect.

Anyone with more information was urged to call the Valley Traffic Division Detective Larkin at (818) 644-8115, or Detective Daniel Menesez at (818) 644-8028. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.
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