hit and run

Deputies Continue to Search for Hit-and-Run Driver Who Hurt Father of Two

Efren Virgen was crossing a street early Saturday when a party bus hit him before taking off

A vehicle believed to be the "party bus" that dragged a man more than 200 feet, leaving him clinging to life, was located Monday and the owner was cooperating with law enforcement, according to sheriff's officials.

The 26-year-old man suffered major injuries on Saturday morning when he was hit by a bus whose driver did not remain at the scene. Deputy Mike Barazza said it is not known if the owner was behind the wheel when the collision occurred, but he is cooperating in the investigation.

The Ford E-450 bus is being held as evidence in a tow yard, Barazza said. The owner is a Pico Rivera resident.

The victim, identified by family members as Efren Virgen Jr. of Norwalk, was walking on Fairford Avenue south of Ratliffe Street about 2:30 a.m. when he was hit by the southbound vehicle.

The vehicle that struck him was described as a black party bus, the type that "is rented out by groups for special events," said sheriff's Detective Carl Anna.

A witness said the bus, which had flashing interior neon lights and loud music playing inside, turned west onto Foster Road and out of view, the detective said.

Anna said witnesses reported that the driver may have swerved to avoid Virgen but ended up hitting him.

"They should catch him," said neighbor George Reeves. "That man (Virgen) can die and he's going to get away with it? No, that ain't right."

Virgen, a married father of two daughters who drives a garbage truck for the city of Long Beach, came out of a coma and off life support Sunday, said his brother, Sam. 

"My brother does not really remember anything," Sam Virgen said. "He's mumbling. He's finally out of the coma and finally off of life support. It looks like he's going to pull through."

Norwalk resident Gaston Gastelum was shocked.

"It's a tragedy," he said. "Hopefully, it comes to justice and they catch the people that did it."

Virgen is set to undergo surgery Wednesday to reconstruct his crushed pelvis.

His brother said he was alert and eating at the hospital.

NBC4's Beverly White and Kim Baldonado contributed to this report.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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