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Silver Lake Hit-Run Suspect Kills Himself : Fatalities: Man leaves note saying he didn’t ‘want anyone else to suffer.’ Police had linked his car to the accident and were seeking to question him.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

A man suspected of accidentally running down a Silver Lake woman who was out for an evening stroll shot himself to death late Tuesday night, leaving a note that said in Spanish: “I have no other solution. I don’t want anyone else to suffer.”

Jorge Rodriguez, a 50-year-old Cuban immigrant, had been having employment and relationship problems, grief-stricken family members said Wednesday after hearing he was wanted in the hit-and-run accident that killed Diane Manahan, 56, Sunday night. The accident, which residents called a sad symbol of the area’s lack of traffic controls, had become a flash point for neighborhood outrage. Investigators had linked Rodriguez’s car to the accident but had not yet found him when they received a phone call from a friend who said she had discovered his body in his apartment a few blocks from the accident site.

“I pray to God that it’s not the truth,” Carlos Carballo, Rodriguez’s nephew, said when a reporter informed him that Rodriguez was the suspect in Manahan’s death. “But I tend to believe that’s what happened. If he had committed it, he would have been so . . . he was a person of a lot of feelings.”

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Rodriguez, who left Cuba in 1980, frequently sent money to his wife and two sons, whom he had left behind, and tried to find a way to bring them to America. Two months ago, he became a grandfather.

But neighbors and family members said Rodriguez was distraught over his personal life and was unable to support himself.

After a girlfriend left him, “he was heartbroken,” Carballo said. “I last talked to him a month ago. He came into my shop to borrow money for the rent. I asked him how it was going, and he said it was tough. He looked depressed. He hasn’t been himself in three years, since he lost his job” at a bank where he worked as a mail clerk. Carballo said Rodriguez had been working part-time at a coin laundry near his home for the past year, but was having trouble paying his bills. A job hot line number was posted above a calendar on the wall in Rodriguez’s apartment, where family members gathered Wednesday.

Across the Silver Lake Reservoir, Michael Manahan, 59, was mourning the loss of his wife of 34 years.

Diane Manahan was taking an after-dinner walk with her husband along West Silver Lake Drive on Sunday when a car approaching from behind hit them. Michael Manahan suffered minor injuries. Police said the couple were walking on the side of the road that borders the reservoir, where there is no sidewalk.

An off-duty police officer who witnessed the accident reported a license number for the car, initially described as a dark Ford Mustang, but investigators found no listing in the Department of Motor Vehicles registry. When they checked variations of the number against DMV records, they found a 1981 gray Mustang registered to Rodriguez.

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Police recovered the suicide note, which they say was illegible except for two sentences, and impounded Rodriguez’s car for forensic testing.

“It has damage on it that is consistent with this collision,” said Detective Arvin Turner of the Los Angeles Police Department’s central traffic division.

Police notified Michael Manahan of the possible link and the death of their suspect Tuesday.

“I was shocked, at first,” Manahan said. “But I’m glad it’s resolved now, and that this didn’t go on.”

Word of the suicide came a day after Silver Lake residents asked city transportation officials to improve traffic safety in the hillside community.

“I hope something good can come out of all this, and that something is done to protect the strollers and the joggers,” said Kathryn Rowley, president of the Silverlake Residents Assn. At its next meeting, the neighborhood organization plans to warn residents to wear reflective clothing and take other precautions if they walk at night, Rowley said.

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Neighbors described Rodriguez as a kind but troubled person.

When Nabelle Captan’s 6-month-old dog escaped last month, Rodriguez chased it down.

“Jorge ran down the block and brought him back home,” said Captan, who lives downstairs from Rodriguez. “If he felt this much guilt, at least you know the man had a conscience.”

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