Los Angeles

Traffic Signal Installed Months After Hit-and-Run Kills Teen in South Los Angeles

Nine months after a teenager was killed in a hit-and-run while crossing the street from a church youth group session in South Los Angeles, the installation of a traffic signal near where he died was finalized Friday.

Los Angeles Councilman Curren Price joined community members in celebrating the installation of the signal, located at 42nd Place and Normandie Avenue in front of Santa Cecilia Catholic Church.

"Together we stay focused and we push to make sure that another life is not claimed unnecessarily," Price said.

In September 2013, the area was cordoned off by yellow police tape as authorities investigated the fatal hit-and-run that left 16-year-old Nathaniel Mota dead.

Mota, who was walking on a marked crosswalk on Normandie Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets, was struck by what police believe was a white four-door sedan, possibly a Toyota. The driver fled the scene.

During an event commemorating the installation, Mota's family was still mourning their loss.

"Today is bittersweet for all of us," said Mota's aunt, Yaneth Palencia. "Nathan would have graduated last week from Verbum Dei High School and gone onto college.

"His death has been the hardest thing we've ever had to endure," she added.

Mota's friends wore T-shirts with his photo on them to the ceremony.

"It's been really hard to deal with because you can't go a day without thinking about him," Mota's friend Brandon Williams said.

Friends and relatives said they've come to terms with what happened and are trying to forgive the driver.

"Like his mother said, she forgives him, and I think that's the right step to do, to forgive him," said Nathan's friend, Enrique Loyola.

"My family has come to terms that that person may never be found. Nothing is going to bring Nathan back," Palencia said.

“We've been urging authorities to have something like signs or lights, especially at night, to prevent something like this," St. Cecilia Pastor Jorge Ochoa said at the time of the crash. "One of our kids was ready to go to college with dreams, and his family is destroyed right now."

Police have not made an arrest in the deadly wreck.

Christina Cocca and Reggie Kumar contributed to this report.

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