ENCINO (CBSLA) — The search continues for the hit-and-run driver who fatally struck a former beauty queen and mother last Saturday evening.
“Her soul. She was so beautiful,” says the victim’s friend, Olga Viter, “She was little, graceful, always happy.”
At a memorial service for his wife Tuesday night, Evgeny Lavrentev was trying to stay strong as family and friends gathered to comfort one another and remember Yana Lavrenteva’s life.
Friends and family told KCAL9’s Rachel Kim that Lavrenteva’s like was taken in an instant.
Tonight, on the sidewalk she was walking towards when she was hit, a memorial stands.
Lavrentev still can’t believe his 30-year-old wife — the mother of his two children — is gone.
“We were more than just husband and wife,” Lavrentev says, “we were soulmates, we were best friends.”
The couple was dancing on Saturday night at a friend’s birthday party in Encino. Later on that evening around 11:50, Yana and some of her girlfriends wanted to hang out and talk so they decided to walk across the street to find a quieter place. When they were within a marked crosswalk on Ventura Boulevard, just east of Louise Avenue. Yana was hit by a speeding car going eastbound.
“Everyone is suffering,” says friend Yaroslava Markov, “everyone.”
Markov was one of the two friends walking with Yana in the crosswalk. She says Yana was a couple of steps ahead of them when she was struck.
On Thursday evening, police released video of the car they believed was responsible in the fatal accident — a 1996-2000 silver Toyota 4-runner.
“We’re still going to try to enhance it to get more details in regards to the vehicle, but from what she see right now, it’s a silver-color possible Toyota 4-runner,” says Det. Lisset Fuentes of the LAPD.
Markov saw the impact.
“We saw this extremely strong hit and then she flew up and the driver hit her again and did not press any brakes or anything,” Markov says.
RELATED LINK: Beauty Queen Killed In Hit-And-Run In Encino
Markov had a suggestion for the hit-and-run driver.
“Come forward,” she says, “Just come, tell the truth, because they will get you anyways.”
The grieving husband says he has no words for the person responsible for his pain. And he’s still been unable to tell his 6-year-old son or his 4-year-old daughter about the tragedy. The love of his life was a speech therapist for children with autism who was also working on her master’s degree.
He knows Yana will always be with them.
“I always tell her about my love for her,” he says, “I pray for her soul.”
Anyone who may have information about the car or the driver is asked to call the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division.
Kim reported, “A reminder. The LAPD has a hit-and-run reward program. They offer up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver.”