Authorities on Tuesday announced a $10,000 reward for help in finding a hit-and-run driver responsible for the death of an Australian national struck by a vehicle as he walked on the northbound Hollywood (170) Freeway in North Hollywood.
Rishi Chaubal-Menon, an 18-year-old student at the New York Film Academy-LA Campus, was killed about 12:15 a.m. Oct. 31 near Vineland Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Leland Tang said.
During a news conference Tuesday announcing the reward, friends recalled a special man.
"He taught me how to use the washing machine," said Buffy Milner, who shared a home with Chabal-Menon, as they both had moved for the first time away from home. "He was like my mother here. And I would come home and I would find notes around the house saying, 'I've left you dinner in the fridge.'"
Milner said they had just left a party at an apartment when he was killed. She said she thought he jumped in a car with other friends and admits drinking was involved.
"I can't accept that he was too drunk and wandered onto the freeway," Milner said. "That's not who he was."
Other drivers who came upon the scene stopped and parked their vehicles in traffic lanes to protect his body from being struck again.
Toby Kertan, a classmate, said the victim was caring and considerate.
"Rishi was a very genuine human being," he said.
Ria Patel, a classmate and friend, still hears his voice.
She misses his smile, his laughter, his cheekiness.
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"There is not one day that goes by that I don't think about him," Patel said.
Police were searching for a vehicle with damage to the left front side headlight, left front fender, and possibly damage to the left front windshield,'' Tang said. The make, model and color are unknown.
"We don't know why the young man was on the freeway," he said. "We know it is a very busy freeway, and we hope someone saw something that will help us find the motorist and help bring closure to the family.''
The film academy offered the reward for information leading to the arrest of the motorist.
Chaubal-Menon had only bid farewell to his family a month before he died, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
"Tomorrow I finally start the next chapter of my life," he wrote on Facebook. "Undeniably, the road has had its bumps, but I have a clear path in mind with a goal that may seem laughable to many. I believe it is this attitude that sets people back.
"So, as I turn the new leaf and enter the first day of the rest of my life (I know, how cliche), I will say simply this: you can be a friend or you can be an obstacle, don't try and disrupt my course because I will be relentless in striving to reach the destination (woo how inspiring)."
Anyone with information on the case was urged to call Tang at the CHP's West Valley Area office, (818) 888-0980, ext. 204.