Los Angeles police on Friday announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a hit-and-run driver whose car struck and killed a woman in November in downtown L.A.’s Fashion District.
Jacqueline Hernandez, 23, was crossing 12th Street near Paloma Street around 6 p.m. Nov. 7 when she was hit. She may have slipped or tripped as she was running across the street, said Det. Jose De Leon of the LAPD’s Central Traffic Division.
At a news conference Friday morning, police said the suspect’s car is a 2015 or 2106 black or silver BMW 428i sedan. The suspect was described as a “clean-cut” Asian man in his 40s.
Witnesses weren’t able to obtain the car’s license plate number, but surveillance cameras from a nearby business captured footage of the hit-and-run and the vehicle.
Surveillance footage shows the driver getting out of his car after striking Hernandez, approaching her as she lay on the ground and then fleeing, authorities said.
Dressed in shirts emblazoned with Hernandez’s face, her family told reporters she was leaving a job interview and on her way to a party for her boyfriend when she was struck. Her boyfriend, Junior Gonzalez, described her as a humble young woman who was willing to “help somebody no matter the situation.”
Her mother wept as she stood behind him, then stepped up to the lectern. Holding a photo of Hernandez that read “In loving memory,” Sandra Hernandez called her daughter her “princess” and her “everything.”
The hit-and-run highlights a growing problem with fatal pedestrian-vehicle interactions in downtown, LAPD Capt. Alfonso Lopez said.
In 2016, the LAPD’s central bureau recorded 63 traffic fatalities — 34 of which involved a pedestrian in a crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk. “It’s about a 134% increase from 2015,” Lopez said.
The increase could be a result of drivers and pedestrians looking at their phones, especially social media, and not paying attention to the road, he said. “That is a very concerning issue for us. It’s something we’re looking at.”
Traffic accidents involving bicyclists have decreased, he noted.
Lopez said the spike in pedestrian fatalities has sparked a conversation about safety campaigns and determining whether changes in engineering — including adding more lights on streets — will help address the issue.
“In this case, lighting was dim in the area,” Lopez said. “She did fall before the car struck.”
Authorities have asked anyone with information about the hit-and-run to call the LAPD Central Traffic Division at (213) 833-3746, (213) 486-0751 or (877) LAPD-247.
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11:30 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from the victim’s family and the LAPD.
This article was originally published at 7:50 a.m.