A 19-year-old man, suspected of fatally injuring a 5-year-old boy in a hit-and-run crash in South Los Angeles, apologized to the family before he surrendered to police Wednesday.
Anguished family members and police asked for help earlier in the day in the search for the driver who struck Ronald Neal twice, fatally injuring him Tuesday in the Florence area of South Los Angeles.
The crash was reported about 5:15 p.m. at the intersection of 82nd Street and Towne Avenue, according to Los Angeles Police Department Officer Sal Ramirez.
Homer Watford, 19, was accompanied by family when he went to the LAPD 77th Street station Wednesday and admitted that he was the driver of the suspect vehicle, authorities said. He was booked on charges of felony hit-and-run.
Jaychele Turner, Neal's mother, said Watford was a family friend and apologized to her before he went to the police.
"I feel bad for him. But moreso my son," she said. "I'm here for him if he needs me. He's my friend you know? Despite what happened. I can't hold a grudge. My heart won't let me do that."
A neighbor's surveillance cameras captured the suspected vehicle speeding away from the scene, which was a mid-1990s, faded dark green Chevrolet Suburban SUV with tinted rear windows and front end damage from the crash. Police said Watford's vehicle had damage consistent with what was shown in the video.
Ronald was playing with others when he ran across the street toward his house and was hit by the sport utility vehicle, police said. Family members at a Wednesday morning news conference pleaded with the driver to contact authorities.
A $50,000 reward for information was announced at Wednesday's news conference.
Ronald was taken to a hospital, where he later died, according to the LAPD's South Traffic Division. The victim was likely struck twice by the SUV, police said.
"We just want whoever did this to, please, turn himself in," Turner had pleaded earlier. "It just doesn't make any sense to hit him, to stop and then hit him again and run him over, drag my baby. It's just not right."
Family members described Ronald as a "bubbly," friendly and outgoing child who was deeply loved. Family members did not confirm reports that Ronald was attempting to help a dog get out of the street.
Adrian Arambulo contributed to this report.