Police, Public Plea for Help to Solve Long Beach Hit-and-Runs

The city and family members of victims put out plea for help to solve hit-and-runs in Long Beach

By Hetty Chang
|  Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013  |  Updated 7:24 PM PDT
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A family in Long Beach seeks help finding the drive who hit a 43-year-old mother and grandmother. The crash is one of two unsolved hit-and-runs in the area less than a week. Hetty Chang reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013.

Hetty Chang

A family in Long Beach seeks help finding the drive who hit a 43-year-old mother and grandmother. The crash is one of two unsolved hit-and-runs in the area less than a week. Hetty Chang reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013.

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In Long Beach, police are hoping public awareness and a family's plea will help curb the number of hit-and-run crashes, which have reached 188 so far this year.

Detectives worked Tuesday to find the drivers who fled the scenes of the city's latest hit and runs, which happened less than 2 miles from each other, and less than a week apart.

"My heart just skipped a beat. I didn't know what to do," said Latoya Patterson, whose mother Sandra Davis, 43, remained in a coma Tuesday evening, after she was struck on Nov. 22.

Davis was crossing South Street near Ackerfield Avenue at 5:40 p.m. to meet her uncle when she was hit by the driver of a light-colored "Altima-style" sedan. The driver stopped, but then fled the scene, according to witnesses.

"By the time I came back up Ackerfield and to the intersection right here, I found her," said Gary Ellis, Davis' uncle who choked back tears. "I found her ... in the streets."

Davis suffered life-threatening injuries. Her family is searching for answers.

"Just tell us what happened," pleaded Patterson, closing her eyes. "I pray to God it don't happen to nobody else. They need to do something, the city or state or somebody to put a light -- a crosswalk or something."

It takes extensive traffic studies, in some cases, for city engineers to determine which intersections need crosswalks or lights. At the intersection where Davis was hit, neither may be good options, according to police.

"Even if there was a crosswalk there, you still have the issues of what we call vision obscurement," said Detective Richard Birdsall of the Long Beach Police Department.

On Thanksgiving night, less than a week after Davis was hit, a 15-year-old boy on a bike was also critically injured when he rode through a stop sign near Linden Avenue and 61st Street.

In that case, the driver who fled the scene may have been driving a light-colored sedan, possibly a Nissan Altima, according to police.

As police investigate, they have this message for drivers this holiday season.

"People are distracted. They want to get from point A to point B and they will jaywalk to get there without looking for crosswalks," said Birdsall. "Just watch out for them."

He adds: "Deliberately choosing to leave the scene of an accident, without giving information and fleeing, it now becomes a felony and now becomes a wanted suspect by us."

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