Victims Identified in Deadly Weekend Hit-and-Run Crashes in Los Angeles

Two of the fatal crashes were within just miles of each other in the San Fernando Valley

By Brandon Lowrey and Beverly White
|  Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013  |  Updated 4:02 AM PDT
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A 19-year-old woman killed by a hit-and-run driver in South Los Angeles was a college student who was making a quick, midnight run to a store near her home. The girl was one of three pedestrians in Los Angeles killed by hit-and-run drivers over the weekend. Beverly White reports for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013.

Beverly White

A 19-year-old woman killed by a hit-and-run driver in South Los Angeles was a college student who was making a quick, midnight run to a store near her home. The girl was one of three pedestrians in Los Angeles killed by hit-and-run drivers over the weekend. Beverly White reports for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013.

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One of two Saturday night hit and run deaths on Ventura Boulevard killed a man who had just been celebrating his girlfriend’s new job. She spoke out about the incident Monday. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Sherman Oaks for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on August 19, 2013.

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Three hit and run deaths on Saturday night, including two on Ventura Boulevard, raised questions about pedestrian safety. The LAPD offered safety tips, which include not jaywalking and not parking too far from the curb. Gadi Schwartz reports from Sherman Oaks for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on August 19, 2013.
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Police on Monday were searching for drivers in three hit-and-run crashes that left three pedestrians dead throughout Los Angeles over the weekend.

The crashes occurred late Saturday and early Sunday, two along Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley and one in South Los Angeles.

Authorities identified the dead on Monday: Michael Spencer Bonanomi, 35, of Santa Monica; Djanoba Williams, 19, of South Los Angeles; and Ernesto Melendez, 23, of Van Nuys.

About 11:45 p.m. Saturday in Studio City, Bonanomi was crossing Ventura Boulevard at Fairway Avenue outside of crosswalks, according to a statement by the Los Angeles Police Department.

A white Mercedes Benz CLS bearing paper plates with yellow lettering struck him and carried him about 100 yards, police said. The car was traveling eastbound "at a very high rate of speed" along Ventura Boulevard, according to a police statement.

The vehicle would have major front-end damage, police said.

Bonanomi died at the scene.

About 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, Williams was crossing 102nd Street and Central Avenue in South Los Angeles when a dark-colored Ford Taurus fatally struck her and sped off, police said.

This is the second time Djanoba Williams' mother, Albertina, has had to deal with the loss of a child.

"I have one left. I have one son left, and he's 16, so now he doesn't have a brother or sister," Albertina said.

Djanoba's death has not yet sunk in for her aunt, Kim Williams.

"She got accepted to college in Texas, but she wanted to stay here with the family. I'm kind of in disbelief," Kim said. "I feel like, had she went away, she wouldn't have been crossing the street."

The vehicle was believed to be involved in a street race along Central Avenue.

A witness who saw the crash said the teen's death was immediate.

"As soon as she got hit it was over with. It was like instant death. She had no time to cry out or holler," said Rodney, a witness who did not want to give NBC4 his last name.

In the third hit-and-run, which was about 1:45 a.m. on Sunday, a valet in Sherman Oaks was opening the door of a Ford Focus for Melendez when a car suddenly struck both of them and sped away without stopping.

Melendez was critically injured and later died at a hospital. The valet survived without any serious injury.

The driver's vehicle was described as a silver, newer-model Hyundai Tucson, which was traveling westbound on Ventura Boulevard west of Kester Avenue.

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