Mother and her two children hit and killed by suspected drunk driver

Jose Luis Bermejo places a candle for the woman and two children who were hit and killed by a motorist on West La Jolla Street in Placentia.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A mother and her two young children were struck and killed Saturday night in Placentia by a motorist, who was later arrested on suspicion of murder and driving under the influence, authorities said.

A group of Placentia police officers on patrol heard noises that sounded like a car accident at about 10:25 p.m. Saturday and headed towards the commotion, said Sgt. Mike Busse. They found the woman and two children lying unresponsive in the street near the 800 block of West La Jolla Street.

For the record:

1:35 p.m. Aug. 21, 2016

An earlier version of this story said the neighborhood was near the intersection of the 51 and 91 Freeways. The area is near the 57 and 91 Freeways.

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Paramedics declared the victims dead at the scene, Busse said.

Nearby, police found two damaged vehicles and their drivers, who remained at the scene. Nicholas Stephen Munoz, 27, drove the car that struck the pedestrians, Busse said.

Munoz was arrested on suspicion of murder and driving under the influence, he said. The other driver was interviewed and released.

Police said they were still trying to determine how the victims are related.

But Isidro Ayala, a man who identified himself as the grandfather of the two girls killed, told The Times that the victims were members of his family. The woman killed was his stepdaughter, Patricia Ledezma, said Ayala, 51.


Ayala identified the two girls killed as Patricia’s daughters, Diane Ledezma, 5, and Stefanie Ledezma, 8. He said the three were returning home from a party and were crossing the street when they were hit.

The area, a residential neighborhood of town homes and apartment complexes near the intersection of the 57 and 91 Freeways, sees a lot of pedestrian traffic, Busse said. The incident occurred on a two-lane road with sparse traffic lights and signs, he said.

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12:50 p.m.: This story has been updated with new information from a family member of the victims.