PICO RIVERA (CBSLA) — As a suspect in a deadly Pico Rivera carjacking sits behind bars, a community is mourning the loss of 13-year-old Isabella Cortes, who they described as friendly, funny and happy.
“She was the happiest girl I ever met,” her cousin Brenda Santiago said. “She always makes her family laugh with her jokes and everything.”
The teen and her three siblings — 8, 11, and 18 years old — were sitting inside their family car on Sunday, waiting for their parents outside a restaurant when a carjacker jumped in and sped off.
The 11-year-old and 18-year-old escaped with minor injuries but Cortes and her younger 8-year-old brother were still trapped inside the vehicle.
Shortly after, Cortes suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene after either jumping from the vehicle or getting ejected.
Her 8-year-old brother was left with major injuries, and the rest of the family is now struggling with the sudden tragedy that took Isabella’s life.
Detectives say the suspect tried to carjack another vehicle after crashing and ditching the van with the siblings.
27-year-old Jose Aguilar was arrested minutes after the incident, and according to authorities, he was recently arrested and released on felony possession of a dagger and vandalism. He was also on probation for other charges.
Aguilar is currently in jail on no bail and is expected to have a court hearing on Wednesday.