Reward Offered in Hit-and-Run Crash That Killed Santa Ana Music Teacher

Police and family members of a high school band teacher struck in a hit-and-run crash announced a $20,000 reward on Friday to find the driver who left him brain dead.

Chris Chavez, 26, a drum line instructor at Saddleback High School, was crossing a green light on Bristol Street at Central Avenue about 2 a.m. on April 20, when a black BMW speeding through a red light struck him, police said.

A witness saw what happened and took a photo that shows a woman walking toward her four-door car with paper plates. Less than a minute later, investigators said she got back in and took off.

At an emotional news conference Friday morning, Santa Ana city and police officials offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. The Chavez family pledged an additional $10,000.

Chavez had been in critical condition since the crash and underwent procedures to relieve pressure in his brain. Doctors told the family he had a 50/50 chance of survival, but on Thursday, he was declared brain dead, his family said. 

"We lost Chris," his father, Ralph Chavez, said. "We're going to keep him on life support and have him be a donor."

Chavez always loved music, his family said. After graduating from Saddleback High School, he returned to teach the drum line.

A celebration honoring Chavez will be held at Saddleback High School at 3:30 p.m. Friday, followed by a 7 p.m. vigil at the crash site near Bristol Street and Central Avenue.

Police said the car, likely a 2004 to 2010 500 BMW series, sustained major front-end damage. The woman was described between 5-foot-2 and 5-foot-4.

Anyone with information is asked to call Santa Ana police at 714-245-8209.

Contact Us