A 19-year-old man killed in a hit-and-run in South Los Angeles was the oldest of four siblings who loved working on his prized possession – his Infiniti – friends and family said Wednesday morning at the site where he died.
Police say Jerry Arredondo Jr. was hit Tuesday night as he stepped out of his car, parked on 105th Street just east of Wadsworth Avenue. A speeding eastbound 2013 Chevy Camaro hit the teen, launching him into the air and several feet down the street. His body hit a small tree with such force it split its trunk in half. The driver crashed into several other cars before abandoning the Camaro and fleeing in a friend's BMW.
"He was fresh out of high school, just a joyful kid," said Felix Pool, 24, of Arredondo. "It's someone you're not going to see again that you're used to seeing every day of your life."
Arredondo was pronounced dead at the scene. About 20 candles laid out in the shape of a cross now make a memorial to the teen.
Arredondo loved his car, Pool said. He was studying how to work on cars. He had redone the front end of his Infiniti, added a spoiler to the rear and was saving up for a super-charger, Pool said.
A few miles away from the scene, Arredondo's mother buried her face in a relative's shoulder and wept. Friends and family stood nearby, consoling each other.
"He was the best I had," Aracelia Sandoval said in Spanish, choking up with emotion. "He loved to be with family."
A single mother, Sandoval leaned on Arredondo to help her babysit his 15-year-old sister and two brothers, 8 and 2 years old, said his cousin, Sandra Sandoval. Relatives struggled to make sense of the crash and said they think Arredondo was targeted – though they said he had no enemies – because there were no skid marks at the scene and the driver got away.
After the Camaro hit Arredondo, the driver kept going, "pinballing all the cars," said Justice Allah, 18, who was visiting friends in the neighborhood at the time and saw the aftermath of the crash.
"All the metal was smashed, it was bad," Allah said.
Residents said the Camaro might have bottomed-out at a deceptively big dip at Wadsworth, then lost control because of its speed.
The Camaro driver's friends picked him up before police arrived, said Pedro Zepeda, 34, who was having dinner with friends on 105th when the crash occurred.
Zepeda said the street was chaotic immediately after the incident. While almost everyone on the street was paying attention to the Camaro at the end of the street and surveying the damage to several parked cars, it took a few moments before anyone noticed Arredondo's body, obscured by the tree and wreckage, Zepeda said.
"I didn't even know he'd hit anyone at first," Zepeda said.
The driver of the Camaro was last seen getting into a silver BMW 5 series model, police said. The Camaro was a rental.
Anyone with information about the fatal accident was encouraged to call the LAPD's South Traffic division at (323) 421-2500.