Reward offered for driver who struck and killed 15-year-old girl in Santa Clarita

A $20,000 reward in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the hit-and-run driver who killed a 15-year-old Sylmar girl will be offered Monday at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Santa Clarita Valley station.

Desiree Lawson was struck the day after Christmas last year as she crossed the northbound lanes of Sierra Highway, just south of Soledad Canyon Road in Santa Clarita. Family members said Desiree left home in September but had recently vowed to return soon.

Authorities received tips that a man had been seen walking with or near Desiree about 8:40 p.m., the time of the collision, but no one has been arrested in connection with her death. No vehicle description was available. Investigators said there are no street lights in the area, nor any nearby intersections or crosswalks.

Desiree, who had five siblings, had been a cheerleader and hoped one day to become a social worker, said relatives.

“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,” her mother, Claire Wickhorst, told The Times in December.


The teenager had disappeared from home several times but always called to say she was safe and that she loved her family.

She seemed to be “testing her independence,” said Wickhorst’s cousin, Wendy Harvey.

“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.

The reward was approved by the Los County Board of Supervisors and is scheduled to be presented at 11 a.m. by local authorities, as well as city and county officials.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Santa Clarita Valley station at (661) 255-1121 or provide anonymous tips at (800) 222-TIPS.

Twitter: @corinaknoll