Woman with criminal background arrested in hit-and-run that killed Wilmington father

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Friday, October 20, 2023
Woman with criminal history arrested in deadly Wilmington hit-and-run
The victim was lighting fireworks in the center divider near his Wilmington home. The suspect apparently swerved out of her lane on purpose to hit him, police say.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A woman with a long criminal history is now facing murder charges for a deadly hit-and-run in Wilmington.

Police say Rachel Fiorentino Gutierrez was driving at a high rate of speed when she swerved out of her lane and into the center divider.

The impact killed Juan Jose Areyan.

Gutierrez has a long criminal history and was involved in another crash after the hit-and-run.

Areyan's family says they're glad a suspect has been caught.

The deadly hit and run happened July 3. Surveillance video shows Areyan, 36, lighting fireworks in the middle lane just feet away from his Wilmington home.

As his family watched in horror, police say 37-year-old Gutierrez hit Areyan, killing him instantly.

Det. Ryan Moreno with LAPD's South Traffic Division says Areyan was in the center divider and wasn't blocking traffic. From the video it appeared Gutierrez was driving fast and then swerved into the center divider to strike Areyan, he said.

"The speed is out of control," Moreno said. "I don't know why people are driving so fast, which is no regard, no respect for human life."

Police say Gutierrez is the mother of a toddler. A month after the deadly hit-and-run in Wilmington, she was involved in another crash, where she ran into some parked cars.

The LAPD also says Gutierrez has a criminal history that includes serving time for burglary, domestic violence, witness intimidation and drug violations.

Areyan's family says while they are grateful for the arrest, they're still devastated over their loss.

"Although this does not bring him back, hopefully it brings us one step closer to getting justice for Juan," said Areyan's widow, Cassie Hill.

Areyan's oldest son, Danny Lemus, who flew in from his deployment with the U.S. Navy, says "the second he had me he turned his life around. He worked 20 years to make sure I always had food, a house, everything."

Gutierrez remains in custody. Her bail is set at $3 million. She's already been arraigned on the murder charge.