SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) – A 55-year-old woman has been arrested in a hit-and-run which killed a beloved 14-year-old girl while she was walking to school last month in San Bernardino.
Charlean Larue Welch was taken into custody Monday morning in the hit-and-run death of Jade Maldonado, according to California Highway Patrol.
She was identified as the driver after officers located the suspect vehicle, ran the plates and got the owner’s identification.
On the morning of Sept. 28, Maldonado was walking to Pacific High School when she was struck.
CHP reports that Maldonado was crossing Pacific Street at its intersection with Glasgow Avenue, in a marked crosswalk, when she was hit by an SUV, which was later determined to be a tan-colored 2000 Chevrolet Suburban.
Maldonado was struck near Ruby Gutierrez’s house. Though the 14-year-old didn’t know Maldonado well, Gutierrez said the crash has had an impact on her.
“It made me anxious, like and now I kind of don’t feel safe when I cross the street ’cause it’s really scary,” Gutierrez said.
The SUV was going between 40 and 50 miles per hour and did not attempt to stop, CHP said. After hitting Madonado, the driver sped away.
“The car kept going and then I see her laying in the street,” said Duffy Hite, who lives nearby and heard the collision. “She fell off the front, off the hood, and they ran over her and kept going.”
Maldonado was rushed to a hospital with major injuries, where she died that same afternoon.
Maldonado’s family told CBS2 she served as a caretaker for her disabled mother. She was also a bone marrow donor for her little brother, Sal. Recently, she won the Principal’s Award for excellence at her school.
“She would always help people, help other students, she was always there to pick up her little brother,” Maldonado’s former teacher Denise Adams told CBS2. “Just a kind (person), you couldn’t ask for a better student.”
“She was just starting her day,” Maldonado’s uncle Albert Pena said. “She was a straight A student and she was the light of our life.”
The charges which Welch faces were not immediately confirmed.