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‘Superdad’ dies after pushing wife and son out of car’s way; reward offered to help find driver

A woman wearing sunglasses holds a young boy
Angelica Chavarria, holding her 2-year-old son at a news conference, asks the driver who struck and killed her husband, Jemmy Chavarria, to turn himself in.
(KTLA-TV Channel 5)
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Lights were flashing as a crossing guard in a bright yellow vest escorted a family of three across a South Los Angeles intersection on their way to church.

But all of the precautions didn’t stop a sedan from barreling through Hoover and 84th streets and fatally striking 42-year-old Jemmy Chavarria, authorities said.

Before impact, Chavarria pushed his wife, Angelica, and tossed his 2-year-old son, Zion, out of harm’s way, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

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Chavarria died later at the hospital.

Police are now offering a $50,000 reward to find the hit-and-run driver, who Angelica Chavarria, during a news conference Thursday near the site of the Feb. 26 collision, tearfully said never attempted to stop.

Though Chavarria said she forgave the driver, “with all my heart,” she added, sobbing, “you have to pay for what you did.”

“It hurts so much. I miss him so much,” Chavarria, dressed in a black shirt and sunglasses, said of her husband. “My 2-year-old asks for his daddy, and I don’t know what to say to him. You took his daddy away from him.”

At the news conference, Los Angeles police Det. Ryan Moreno described Jemmy Chavarria’s actions as “an amazing act of heroism.”

Chavarria, he added, “was able to have the presence of mind to actually shove his wife out of harm’s way as best he could and basically get his son out of the way by tossing him back over toward the sidewalk area.”

The community “lost a ‘superdad,’” L.A. City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson told reporters.

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“He was taken from us by a careless, a reckless and a criminal driver who disregarded all of the measures that were put in place to keep people safe,” said Harris-Dawson, who represents the area where the collision occurred.

Harris-Dawson said Hoover is one of the more dangerous thoroughfares in the city, and is part of the High-Injury Network, which represents 6% of city streets that account for 70% of deaths and severe injuries for pedestrians.

It’s believed the driver was behind the wheel of an older, four-door sedan, possibly a Nissan Altima in a “gold, pewter-type color,” Moreno said. The vehicle was missing a right front hubcap at the time of the collision.

While other motorists stopped to allow the family to cross, the “impatient” driver heading north on Hoover went around traffic into oncoming southbound lanes when the collision occurred, said Jay Hom, a captain with the Los Angeles Police Department.

The driver continued north after striking the family and footage captured the car heading east on 83rd street from Hoover, Moreno said.

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Anyone with information is asked to contact Moreno at (323) 421-2500.

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