Family of Man Killed in Long Beach Hit and Run Asks for Public's Help

The wheelchair-bound man died hours after the Sunday collision, which was caught on surveillance video

By Lolita Lopez and Melissa Pamer
|  Thursday, Dec 13, 2012  |  Updated 10:04 PM PDT
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Surveillance video was released Thursday showing a hit-and-run crash that killed a man in a wheelchair over the weekend. Police and the man’s family hope the video will help identify the driver who fled the scene. Detectives say the car should have significant damage on the front end because of the collision. Lolita Lopez reports from Long Beach for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Dec. 13, 2012.

Lolita Lopez

Surveillance video was released Thursday showing a hit-and-run crash that killed a man in a wheelchair over the weekend. Police and the man’s family hope the video will help identify the driver who fled the scene. Detectives say the car should have significant damage on the front end because of the collision. Lolita Lopez reports from Long Beach for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Dec. 13, 2012.

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Long Beach police are seeking help identifying the driver of a vehicle that slammed into a man in a wheelchair Sunday, killing him and sending pieces of his wheelchair skittering across the street.

The crash ended the life of as 55-year-old Robert Diaz of Long Beach, a quadriplegic who had been attempting to cross Artesia Boulevard at Rose Avenue.

Diaz, pictured below, died in a local hospital several hours after the 5:30 p.m. crash. The vehicle that struck him was traveling eastbound on Artesia Boulevard, according to Long Beach Police Department, which released surveillance video of the crash.

On Thursday, Diaz's family held a press conference also asking for help finding the driver.

"My father Robert Diaz was an amazing guy," son Jason Diaz said at a press conference Thursday. "He led a difficult, compromised life and it's very unfortunate that it has to end this way. And his person needs to be held accountable for want they have done."

Ex-wife Rosa Arencibia said she had been high-school sweethearts with Robert Diaz and remained good friends with him after their divorce.

"We would like to plead with anyone who has any information to please come forward so that we could bring closure to this tragic incident," Arencibia said.

Police said that a witness saw the suspect vehicle stop one block from the collision and exit the car, but the vehicle drove away.

A memorial has been placed across the street from a local music hangout where Diaz liked to go.

"He liked oldies. He would sit and listen to it, bob his head and he was happy," said Mi Jason, who works at the music joint.

The suspect vehicle is described as a silver four-door sedan. The driver was described as a Latino male in his 30s with black hair, 6 feet tall and 190 to 200 pounds.

Police said they've gotten calls regarding similar cars. They're looking for a vehicle that may have damage to the front end.

Anyone with information about the crash is urged to call Long Beach Police Accident Investigations Detective Sirilo Garcia at (562) 570-7355. Anonymous tips may be submitted by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), texting TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.

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