Toddler fighting for her life after parents, sister killed in New Year's Eve crash in South LA

Sophie Flay Image
Wednesday, January 3, 2024
Toddler clinging to life after parents, sister killed in NYE crash
A 1-year-old is fighting for her life after her parents and 5-year-old sister were killed when a speeding driver slammed into their car in South L.A., police say.

SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A 1-year-old girl is fighting for her life after her parents and 5-year-old sister were killed in a tragic two-car crash on New Year's Eve in South Los Angeles.

The crash happened around 11:20 p.m. when a speeding driver fleeing a hit-and-run blew past a stop sign and slammed into the family's sedan, according to the LAPD.

The crash claimed the lives of 49-year-old Jose Manuel Pasgagasa, 26-year-old Luisa Arenas and their 5-year-old daughter Mia Pasgagasa.

Hanna Sofia Cortes Bernal, who turns 2 years old in nine days, was the family's only survivor. She remains hospitalized in the pediatric intensive care unit.

LAPD detective Ryan Moreno says the toddler wasn't expected to survive, but she's been showing recovery.

The family moved to Southern California from Colombia one year ago. Detectives are now working to find their relatives.

Community members mourned the tragedy Tuesday evening by placing candles, flowers and photos on the corner near the intersection of Normandie Avenue and West 60th Place, where the crash happened.

Surveillance video shows a white SUV traveling at high speeds on surface streets before it slammed into the sedan.

Nearby residents say the crash sounded like an explosion.

"As soon as I saw the little kids in bad condition, with blood all over them, I couldn't hold it and I just started crying," Amilcar Lopez said.

Police say the driver, 22-year-old Issac Jordan Kahari, was fleeing a hit-and-run and ran past a stop sign. The impact of the crash sent the sedan crashing into a street sign, knocking over a fence. The sedan was quickly engulfed in smoke.

Maria Lopez says her father and other neighbors rushed in to help when they noticed the family was trapped in the wreckage.

The suspect is still in the hospital with injuries described as not life-threatening. He faces possible murder and attempted murder charges.

Detectives are still waiting for a toxicology report, but they do believe the suspect was under the influence that night.