The Los Angeles City Council is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for a hit-and-run crash in Sherman Oaks that killed 22-year-old Ernesto Melendez. According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, a gray 2010-2013 Hyundai Tucson was traveling westbound on Ventura Boulevard during the early morning hours of August 18, 2013 when it collided with the open driver’s side door of a parked Ford Focus.
Melendez, the owner of the Ford, was getting into the vehicle with the help of a valet attendant when the car was hit. The Hyundai continued and crashed into an unattended parked vehicle directly in front of the Ford Focus. Melendez was transported to a local hospital where he died from his injuries. The Hyundai could have damage to its hood and windshield in addition to a missing right rearview mirror. The 21-year-old valet attendant suffered minor injuries in the crash. Officials are hoping that the $50,000 reward serves as an added incentive to the community to come forward and provide information about the suspect and/or vehicle. Anyone with information is urged to contact LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division at 818-644-8000.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Ernesto Melendez for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. The report states that his mother was also killed seven years ago in an accident, but in that case, the driver stopped to help her.
Leaving the scene of a crash is not only unethical and irresponsible, but it is also illegal. Under California Vehicle Code Section 20001 (a), motorists are required under the law to stop and remain at the scene of the crash. In addition, they must also exchange information with other parties involved and most importantly render aid to the injured victim. In this particular case, the driver did none of the above, but chose to drive away.
Holding Wrongdoers Accountable
I certainly hope that this reward serves as an added incentive to community members to alert the authorities about any information they may have about this driver. Anyone with information may also visit our website at www.hitandrunreward.com to offer an anonymous tip and become eligible for an additional $1,000 reward.
Families of deceased hit-and-run victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are preserved. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer will also be able to advise victims and families about how their own auto insurance policy might apply to a hit-and-run case or to an incident where the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured.