Relatives of girl killed in hit-and-run say she had run away but always called home
Relatives of a teenager killed by a hit-and-run driver near Canyon Country on Monday say the girl had been missing since September but recently promised to return home.
Desiree Lawson, 15, was struck and killed by a vehicle about 8:40 p.m. in the 27500 block of Sierra Highway just south of Soledad Canyon Road, said Sgt. Scott Shoemaker, traffic supervisor of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Santa Clarita Station, which is investigating the incident.
No one has been arrested in connection with the girl’s death, Shoemaker said Thursday. Authorities received calls saying a man was seen walking with or near Desiree around the time she was hit, but officials have been unable to locate that person, Shoemaker said. Detectives do not have any information about the hit-and-run driver or vehicle, he said.
“She was very loving, very protective of her family and her sisters. She was extremely intelligent and beautiful. She had a gift for being with children,” said Claire Wickhorst, the dead girl’s mother.
Wickhorst said Desiree, who had five siblings, was extremely willing to help others, yet hard on herself. The girl, who turned 15 on Dec. 5, had had brushes with the law — “nothing serious,” Wickhorst said — and disappeared from home several times.
Each time she left however, she always called home, said she was safe and that she loved her family. She had vowed to return soon, her mother said.
One time, Desiree asked her mother to pick her up at a local 7-Eleven, but didn’t show. Wickhorst said ever since, the store’s clerk has held onto Desiree’s picture and Wickhorst’s phone number in case she turned up again.
The clerk never called.
“[Desiree] wanted to be a social worker. She had good grades. She was a cheerleader,” said Wendy Harvey, a cousin of the girl’s mother. “She comes from a good family. It’s not like we didn’t offer her any means. She comes from an educated family.”
Desiree’s family lives in Sylmar, a dozen miles from where she was struck. The last school grade she completed was seventh, her mother said.
Harvey said Desiree was “testing her independence.”
“It’s really sad that she was taken before she really had a chance to show the family she would turn her life around,” Harvey said. Her family has set up a GoFundMe site to help with funeral costs.
There are no street lights in the area where Desiree was walking, a dark section of the northbound lanes of Sierra Highway not near any intersections or crosswalks, Shoemaker said. Officials are trying to gather any security footage that might exist of the incident, the sergeant added. There are businesses and residences in the area.
Desiree had been missing since September, according to the West Los Angeles station of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Santa Clarita sheriff’s station at (661) 255-1121 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS or lacrimestoppers.org.
2:30 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the girl’s mother.
This article was originally published at 9:40 a.m.
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