hit and run

Search Continues for Driver Who Killed Woman in Hit-and-Run Crash on Christmas

Someone stole a skateboard belonging to her 14-year-old son, who is on the autism spectrum, during the commotion

Police are close to identifying the hit and run vehicle that struck and killed a 49-year-old woman Christmas night in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, according to the lead LAPD investigator.

"We're not going to stop until we find this person," said Det. Ryan Moreno.

Gloria Eaton-Breaux and her 14-year-old special needs son were crossing Crenshaw Boulevard when she was struck. The driver did not stop.

Based on witness accounts and video from several security cameras along the boulevard, police believe the vehicle is a Nissan or Honda seen continuing southbound on Crenshaw, then running a stop sign and veering into the adjacent residential neighborhood.

Eaton-Breaux had a leg disability that slowed her walking pace, according to neighbors. Police believe she was barely halfway across Crenshaw's six lanes when the signal light changed. There were cars at the limit line that waited for her, but the driver of one approaching car did not and likely never saw Eaton-Breaux before the impact, Moreno said.

"This is an unfortunate accident," Moreno said. "But it's time to make it right."

At the Nicolet Avenue apartment building where Eaton-Breaux has lived in recent years with her son, neighbors wiped tears.

"Oh my gosh, not Gloria, not Gloria,'" said friend Shelia Ashley, describing her as "very kind and loving," sharing groceries she brought back from the food bank, and walking children to the park.

Above all, they remember her closeness to her son.

"When they first moved in, they bonded together.  It was really enlightening how they grew together as one," said building manager Crystal Nichols.

They worry about the effect on the teen.

"That's going to live with him the rest of his life, I know it is, I just pray for him," neighbor Trina Jackson said.

Neighbors told NBC4 that the likable young man -- who has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum as high-functioning -- has been blossoming as a musical prodigy. His mother's leg disability did not stop her from walking everywhere, and taking a holiday season job.

"No matter what, nothing stopped her from doing what she needed to do," Jackson said.

"Gloria was always on the move, on the go," said neighbor Traneice O'Neal, who recalled times when Eaton-Breaux would decline the offer of a ride, saying she was fine walking. 

The single mother had recently re-married, neighbors said.

Christmas Day was the son's 14th birthday, and they planned to celebrate with dinner at the Denny's resaturant on Crenshaw at Coliseum Street. He rode the new skateboard that was his gift from his mother, and she walked the mile. The restaurant's owner recalled chatting with them.

"She was there to make her son happy -- to make sure his birthday was not overlooked -- so they could celebrate it," said Ron Smothers.

Moments after leaving to head home, Eaton-Breaux was struck. Her son had crossed in front of her, then rushed to her side. She was still conscious and able to communicate, but later succumbed to her injuries.  

In the commotion, someone took the skateboard -- the boy's final gift from his mother.   

A grandmother is now caring for him.

LAPD South Bureau Traffic is handling the investigation, and Moreno is seeking the public's help in identifying and locating the driver of the hit and run vehicle.

He said officers who responded Christmas night were shaken by the family's tragedy, describing it as "heartbreaking," and citing it as further motivation to catch the fleeing driver.

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