A 27-year-old woman with a prior DUI was identified Tuesday as the suspect in a deadly hit-and-run crash that killed one person and sent four more to the hospital in North Hills over the weekend.
The Los Angeles Police Department announced a $50,000 reward for Maritza Joana Lara, of Van Nuys. Lara is suspected of running a red light in a white Lexus IS200 and crashing into a black Nissan Murano early Sunday morning at the intersection of Haskell Avenue and Parthenia Street, with the crash resulting in the death of the Nissan’s driver, according to the LAPD.
Francisco Hernandez Rivas, 48, was the North Hills resident killed in the crash, police said on Monday. Rivas was a father of two.
Passengers from both vehicles were taken to local hospitals with “severe” injuries, Los Angeles police said. Investigators said one of the passengers taken to the hospital was Lara’s sister.
“The one in the backseat was crying and moaning,” said a woman named Ramona Alvarado who tried to help the passengers in the white Lexus shortly after the fatal crash. “I just remember putting my hand in the window, trying to comfort her and tell her help was on the way.”
The LAPD also released surveillance video of the deadly crash, with the video showing the white vehicle breaking a red light and crashing into the black truck. A short time later, the video shows a woman walking away from the crash site.
Authorities previously said they found a crack pipe and a beer can in the white Lexus, which Lara allegedly fled after the crash. Lara failed to render aid to the injured people, the LAPD said.
“At this time we don’t know what she was under, but because of the information that we have and the evidence that was inside the car, there’s a strong possibility that she was under the influence,” said LAPD Valley Traffic Detective Lissete Fuentes.
An investigation lead LAPD Valley Traffic to find out that the Lexus Lara was driving belonged to someone else.
“She is not the registered owner of the vehicle,” Detective Nicholas Sinclair said, “but the victims that were in the suspect’s vehicle were able to provide the identity.”
The violent crash killed Rivas on father’s day.
“This horrendous crime took the life of a father,” Capt. Andrew Neiman said. “He has a couple of teenage kids and that’s going to be a memory that they’ll never forget every father’s day.”
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Valley Traffic Detective II Sinclair #39576 or Detective III Fuentes #35607 at 818-644-8035. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should contact the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org.