California

Grandmother Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver

Rosario Lagunas, 52, leaves behind a very large family with 15 grandchildren.

Police are hoping new surveillance video will help catch the driver who struck and killed a grandmother as she was leaving her grandson's birthday party Saturday night in unincorporated Home Gardens.

The deadly hit-and-run happened shortly after 8 p.m. on Byron Street, just south of Magnolia Avenue. Rosario Lagunas Guzman, 52, was leaving her grandson's ninth birthday party when she was hit by a car.

"She said 'Mijo, I'm taking off, thank you for everything,'" said Jose Barcenas, her son. "She gave me a hug."

Moments later, Barcenas ran out after hearing his sister screaming.

"I came running out here. I saw her there," he said. "The car just hit and run. He didn't even stop."

California Highway Patrol Officer Dan Olivas said a motorist at the wheel of a silver Honda Accord was heading northbound on Byron and drifted to the right side of the street. The driver of the Honda struck Guzman and then immediately fled the scene northbound.

Witnesses called 911, and Guzman was transported to Corona Regional Medical Center, where she died less than an hour later.

Surveillance video from a taco shop down the street shows the car just seconds after the incident. To pedestrians walking across the street stop and look at the hit-and-run vehicle before it makes a right on Magnolia Avenue. According to Olivas, investigators determined that the Honda was a 2003-2007 model and had sustained right front-end damage as a result of the impact.

"How do you sleep at night?" said Foro Ceuva, a family friend. "How do you wake up the next morning, go to breakfast with your family, when you don't know who you took out?"

Guzman was a mother to eight kids and a grandmother to 15 children.

"Whoever did it -- don't be a coward, sooner or later you're going to be caught. All we need, all we ask is justice," Barcenas said. "Tomorrow it could be one of your loved ones."

Anyone with information was asked to contact the CHP Riverside office at (951) 637-8000. Investigators are also hoping to talk to the two pedestrians seen in the surveillance video.

If you would like to donate to a GoFundMe account set up to help Rosario Lagunas Guzman's funeral fund, you may do so here. Note that GoFundMe deducts 7.9 percent of all funds raised in the form of platform and payment processing charges.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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