Family struggles with grief after fatal hit-and-run crash

March 26, 2012 4:36:26 AM PDT
Charges could come soon against a driver accused of causing a hit-and-run crash that killed a toddler and her 5-year-old brother near 45th Street and Western.

Family and friends and strangers shared tears as they gathered at a small makeshift memorial Sunday, just hours after the horrific accident claimed the lives of 10-month-old Julissa Ochoa and her brother, 5-year-old Eric Ochoa Jr.

The accident happened around 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Authorities say an SUV slammed into the family's car as it was fleeing the scene of another accident.

"They're gone," said Claudia Cabrera, the victims' aunt. "What is there more to say all because he didn't stop after the first accident, you know. Instead of running away he should have just stood there

Anthony Valadez was at work at a nearby business and heard the crash.

"I seen she was with her baby girl and the car was all balled up right there and there was a little boy in the back?," Valadez said.

Witnesses say a distraught Bernice Cabrera ran victim to victim first trying to help her youngest who was still strapped into a car seat lying on the street, then her son who was in the back seat of the heavily damaged vehicle. The children's father lay bleeding slumped over the car's steering wheel.

"She was outside," said Walter Barzola, who lives nearby. "She got outside the car crying real bad."

While relatives say the children's father will recover, Sunday they struggled with the loss.

"They got cheated out of life that's just how I feel," Claudia Cabrera said. "She couldn't even walk yet. That's how I feel. She didn't get to enjoy nothing."

The children's mother was also injured in the crash. Her family said she was treated for an arm and shoulder injury.

Police officials said the driver of the SUV was arrested and then taken to an area hospital, where they say the driver remains.