RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — A 19-year-old Moreno Valley woman was killed in a crash in Riverside early Thursday morning.
The crash happened at about 5:50 a.m. at Magnolia Avenue and Tyler Street when the woman, driving a late model Nissan Sentra, was struck broadside by a white van that apparently blew a red light, according to Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback.
The collision sent the Nissan into an electrical pole in the center median of Magnolia Avenue while the van continued driving south on Tyler Street, Railsback said.
“Whether or not that driver was at fault, they had an obligation to stick around until police were notified,” said Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. She was later identified as Linda Rodriguez.
A witness who saw the crash followed the van believed to have been involved in the crash for about a mile and was able to get the license plate number before calling 911.
The alleged driver of the van was taken into custody Friday afternoon.
But for friends and family of the victim, all they have now are memories.
They spoke to CBS2’s Tina Patel about their loss.
“We’re going to miss her,” friend Precious Sanabria said. “It’s not going to be the same without her.”
Rodriguez’ friends also wonder if she could have been saved if the other driver had stopped.
“Just getting off for a split second to see if she was okay, might have made a difference,” said Karina Rivas.
Friday evening, Riverside Police identified the suspect as 59-year-old Erasto Gomez of Riverside. They also said his van was impounded for evidence.
Friday night, the victim’s friends held a vigil for her.
KCAL9’s Crystal Cruz said they remembered Rodriguez as a fun-loving girly-girl who loved sparkly things and social media and loved to always be in full make-up.
Her friends remembered how beautiful she was with her long hair and big brown eyes.
They gathered to remember their good times.
“To know that she’s gone is just sad,” said friend and co-worker Natalie Rivas. “Somebody just made a mistake and now she’s gone. It’s sad.”
That sentiment was echoed by another friend and co-worker, Adrianna Perez.
“Somebody you work with very closely and you expect them to be back the next day and when that doesn’t happen, it’s very shocking.”
At the intersection where she was killed, her friends and loved ones put up a pink cross because pink was a color she loved.
Friday night, the friends and co-workers told Cruz the person who followed the suspect and got his license plate — as fate would have it — also turned out to be another Rodriguez co-worker.
Anyone with pertinent information about the case can call Riverside Police Detective K. Madsen at (951) 826-8723.