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Suspect fled to Mexico after hit-and-run left one person dead, police say

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Maritza Joana Lara is suspected of being the driver in a fatal hit-and-run that killed a father of two on Father’s Day.
(Los Angeles Police Department)

In a news conference Tuesday, Los Angeles officials revealed details of their two-month search for 27-year-old Maritza Joana Lara, the suspect in a Father’s Day hit and run crash that left one dead and four others injured.

Officials said they learned that within two hours of the collision, Lara went to the downtown Los Angeles Greyhound station and boarded a bus to Calexico. Last week, she was located in Comitan de Dominguez in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

The Los Angeles Police Department worked with the U.S. Marshals and Mexican officials to detain and deport Lara to the United States. She was arrested in Mexico on Aug. 15, and deported to the U.S. on Aug. 17 via Los Angeles International Airport.

Officials did not know where Lara had been staying before her arrest, and were continuing to investigate whether anyone helped her hide.

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Previously released video of the crash showed a Lexus driver blowing through a red light and plowing into an SUV, lifting the vehicle up and sending it flipping into a parked truck before it slammed into a tree and landed on its roof in the front yard of a home in North Hills. Soon after, Lara is seen exiting the white Lexus and walking away from the smoky collision, authorities said. She walks past a large white cross in the parking lot of a church and occasionally looks back at the wreckage, according to authorities.

Empty beer cans were found in the vehicle that authorities said Lara was driving. The investigation into the crash is still underway, but intoxication is being considered as a factor. According to the LAPD, Lara has a prior DUI conviction.

The wife of Francisco Hernandez Rivas, the 48-year-old father of two who was killed in the crash, said during the press conference that she did not hold resentment toward Lara and wanted to leave justice to God’s hands.

“He was on his way to church,” she said about her husband. “He was a great man.”


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