Man fatally struck by driver while lighting fireworks in Wilmington described as loving father of 3

Amy Powell Image
Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Man fatally struck while lighting fireworks in Wilmington identified
Juan Areyan, 36, was lighting fireworks on the street when he was hit by a driver, who remains on the run. His family described him as a loving father of three children, including a teenager serving in the Navy.

WILMINGTON, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Police are searching for the driver who fatally struck a father of three in Wilmington and then took off, leaving the victim's family heartbroken and searching for answers.

The incident happened just after 9 p.m. Monday along Fries Avenue, close to the Food for Less on West G Street.

Investigators said the victim, who was identified by his family as Juan Areyan, was reportedly lighting fireworks when he was run over by a driver in an SUV.

Police say the SUV was heading north "at a high rate of speed" when it struck Areyan. He was dragged under the SUV for about 85 feet before becoming dislodged and then being hit by a second vehicle leaving the parking lot. The driver of the second vehicle stayed at the scene, but the SUV driver fled.

Family members and friends said they witnessed the horrifying collision.

"Juan was in the middle, in the yellow," said Richard Smith, a close friend. "I looked past and we hear a car just blaring down the street, doing at least 85 to 90, aimed towards Juan, hit him. There's no tire marks, you can see he just kept going with no regard for the person he just hit."

Areyan was pronounced dead at the scene. Meanwhile, the driver who struck him remains on the run.

Family members described Areyan as a loving father to his 3-year-old son, 10-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son who is currently serving in the Navy.

"A beautiful man and soul was ripped away from his kids last night," said Areyan's fiancée Cassie Hill. "We're looking for the people that did this, we do want justice. It was a reckless driver in front of our house and there was no reason for it, and we would love to find out who did this and we're just devastated."

The family has since set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to help with funeral expenses.

"Juan was one of the greatest people I knew," said Smith. "One of the biggest hearts you could ever ask for."

A $50,000 reward is available to anyone who provides information leading an arrest.