Two horses were killed and their riders hospitalized in critical condition with injuries suffered in a hit-and-run crash Friday night in Lake View Terrace.
The crash occurred near the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and Wheatland Avenue at 9:40 p.m., according to Officer Drake Madison of the Los Angeles Police Department.
According to neighbors, Alejandra and Leopoldo Solario were returning from a night ride when they were struck from behind. In surveillance video, it appears they are walking around a parked truck when they were struck by by a Chevy Astro van. The driver then smashed into a wall, waking their neighbors, the Tovar family.
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"It felt like an earthquake kind of," said Letty Tovar. "I felt the house shake a little bit and I ran out to see what it was."
Witnesses said the horse riders were thrown at least 100 feet away. Both were found in critical conditions and taken to a hospital, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Nicholas Prange said. The horses were killed on impact.
After an extensive search, Rolando Garcia, 32, was booked for felony hit and run on Saturday. The Tovar's said Garcia can be seen in a surveillance video pleading for help following the crash.
"He said he felt bad because he has horses," said Tovar. It seemed like he really was in shock that he did that."
Despite his injuries, Garcia fled the scene, according to police.
"He said that he was injured," said Tovar. "There was blood on his arm and on his face. But we couldn't open the gate, so we couldn't even help him."
Horse riders are common in the area of Lake View Terrace. Accidents are common too, according to neighbor Joe Hernandez.
"It happens all the time here, people are always getting struck," he said.
Martin Hernandez owns the stable where the horses were kept. He said the area where the couple was hit was a no parking zone but trucks often stop there. Herdnandez said the horses saved the couple's lives by taking most of the impact.
The couple is still in the hospital.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article included comments about Hernandez helping one of the victims. That was in reference to a different accident, and has been removed.