Highland Park hit-and-run: Police ID owner, but not driver of suspect vehicle

Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Highland Park hit-and-run: Father mourns 2 sons killed in crash
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A Highland Park man is in mourning after his two sons were killed in a hit-and-run crash.

HIGHLAND PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Police have identified the owner - but not the driver - of a truck that was involved in the hit-and-run crash that killed two brothers in Highland Park.

Police say a white Chevy Silverado pickup truck was driving at speeds of more than 80 mph on residential streets before it slammed into a Ford Fusion sedan in the 700 block of North San Pascual Avenue.

Brothers Jesse Felix Zuniga, 19, and Benigno Felix Zuniga, 25, were inside the Ford and were pronounced dead at the scene.

"We're suffering," said Viviana Martinez, who was Ben's girlfriend. "Because it was such a shock to lose them both at the same time."

The smashed Silverado was abandoned at the scene. Two people were seen fleeing on foot, but the nighttime video remains too grainy to identify them.

The city is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who was driving at the time of the crash. Anyone with information can call 1-877-LAPD-24-7.

Detectives have spoken to the family who owns the vehicle, but say it still remains unclear who was actually behind the wheel.

"This key is in the middle of a table where anybody has access to (it)," said Los Angeles Police Department Det. Juan Campos. "One day they realized it wasn't there and all of a sudden here's the police knocking at the door asking who was driving the vehicle."

Campos said it is not uncommon for families to not fully monitor which family member is using a vehicle.

"We're trying to find the passenger and driver and trying to get a hold of other family members to find out what's the story, what happened that night," Campos said.

"Believe it or not in my experience a lot of people don't keep track of their cars."

While police believe the Silverado was speeding they do not believe it was racing another vehicle.

The driver is expected to face felony hit-and-run charges. The passenger at this point is not facing any charges but police are hoping that person will step forward and provide information to help identify the driver.

Family and friends gathered Sunday night to remember the victims of a hit-and-run in Highland Park.

In the meantime, family and friends mourned the beloved brothers.

Ben and Jesse were struck as they were parking the car around 1 a.m. in the neighborhood where they grew up and lived with their parents.

Ben was a graduate of Cal State Northridge and Jesse was studying civil engineering at Cal State Los Angeles.

"He was my best friend," said Marisol Salazar, Jesse's girlfriend. "Please help us find the people who did this. It's not fair."

A GoFundMe page has been created in honor of the deceased brothers.