A 19-year-old man was killed early Saturday morning when a wrong-way driver suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol collided with his car on the westbound 210 Freeway in Azusa.
Justin Romo, 19, of El Monte, was killed in the collision. A 16-year-old passener sustained moderate injuries and was taken to County-USC Medical Center, according to California Highway Patrol.
The crash occurred around 3:10 a.m. west of Vernon Avenue when the wrong-way driver in a black Honda Accord collided head-on with Romo's white Nissan 24DSX, with both cars traveling at about 75 mph.
The wrong-way driver, identified as Tyler Thompson, 24, fled the scene on foot, CHP said. Authorities found the driver a few hours later, around 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
"We found some ID in the car that was headed the wrong way and followed up, along with Azusa officers, and arrested the driver," CHP Officer Ron Warrior told reporters at the scene.
Thompson been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
All lanes on the westbound 210 Freeway west of Vernon Avenue were closed for about four and a half hours before reopening just after 7:30 a.m.
Romo's mother Lupe Garcia, expressed grief and anger.
"So please take the keys away from anybody that you see that's drunk from a party, always have a designated driver," she said.
One of Romo's three sisters said the family is still coming to terms with the loss.
"He had a long life to live and unfortunately he had to die like this, I can't believe it," said Marlene Garcia. "You know, it's so unfortunate. I miss my brother already like crazy. I'm taking it so hard."
To help cover funeral expenses, a fund has been set up for the family, whose sole provider was recently restricted from work due to a disability, the corporal said.
Anyone wishing to make a donation by check can visit any Chase Bank branch and reference account number 621355937.
NBC4 Reporter Kate Larsen and City News Service contributed to this report.