Los Angeles

Mother of 2 Young Children Killed by Hit-and-Run SUV Driver in Encino

"She was one of a kind."

The victim of a deadly hit and run in Encino is being remembered as an "amazing" mom who was "beautiful inside and out."

Yana Lavrentev, 30, was struck and critically injured Saturday night as she and two friends were crossing Ventura Blvd. in a midblock crosswalk with a signal. The wife and mother of two young children was removed from life support and succumbed Monday, according to family friends.

The vehicle that struck Lavrentev, described as an older SUV, continued without stopping and is now sought by police, along with its driver.

Lavrentev and her husband were among seven couples of friends, all parents enjoying a grown-ups' night out to celebrate a birthday of one. All had become acquainted in Los Angeles since emigrating from Russia or the Ukraine.

Cellphone video preserved the broad smile on her face during the party as she danced with her husband.

In addition to being a loving mother, Lavrentev worked as a speech therapist, and also was studying for her MBA in an online program, said longtime friend Olga Viter. She recalled how sometimes she sought parenting advice from Lavrentev, even though she was younger.

"Her whole life was ahead of her," Viter said.

Saturday night, after dining in a restaurant in Encino's Plaza de Oro, the group decided to cross the boulevard to another restaurant for coffee. Lavrentev and two other women went ahead to get a table, according to Yaroslava Markov, one of the two walking with Lavrentov.

They were halfway way across in the median, and still had time on the walk countdown, Markov said, when Lavrentov stepped forward and was struck and thrown by the SUV.

They did not see or hear the vehicle coming, Markov said, and after the impact, the SUV "didn't slow down." It appeared to her that the suv was traveling well above the speed limit of 35 miles per hour.

The vehicle may be a pre-2000 Toyota 4Runner, gray or silver, according to what has been learned by detectives at LAPD's Valley Traffic Division.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact Det. Lisset Fuentes at 818-644-8021 or Det. Dan Menesez at 818-644-8028.

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