Father of 3 killed in South LA hit-and-run while celebrating daughter's 1st birthday

SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A father of three celebrating his daughter's first birthday was killed by a hit-and-run driver in South Los Angeles.

The incident happened just after 9 p.m. Saturday at Vermont Avenue and 43rd Street, police said.

A witness said the driver struck the victim and then backed over him again before taking off in an unknown direction.

The 43-year-old man, identified as Alex Perez, died at the hospital, police said.

On Sunday night, his family brought candles to the spot where he was killed to remember him.

"They were praying for my dad," Alex's son, Derek Perez, said.

The candles burned bright as Norma Castillo rocked her daughter Sophia, who fell asleep in her arms. Derek, who is only in seventh grade, spoke at the request of his heartbroken mother.

He said Saturday had been a happy day as they celebrated Sophia's baptism in the morning and her birthday at night.

"He was trying to give my sister the best party," Derek said.

He said his father got a call from a friend about parking and so he went to get his friend. But that's when police said a speeding car blew through a red light and hit Alex as he was walking back home.

"He wanted to give us the best he could," Derek said.

Alex leaves behind his wife, Derek, another son in the fifth grade, and Sophia.

Authorities said none of the businesses that could have captured the accident on surveillance video were open late. A description of the suspect and vehicle also weren't available.

The family believes the suspect may have been street racing, but police said they do not believe that is the case.

Investigators will be combing the area for any possible surveillance footage Monday morning.
Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.