Suspect in Father’s Day Hit-and-Run That Killed Father Found in Mexico: Police

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
August 26, 2019 Updated: August 26, 2019

A woman who allegedly walked away from a crash in California that left a father dead was arrested in Mexico, according to officials.

The Los Angeles Police Department tweeted on Aug. 25 that Maritza Joana Lara, 27, was taken into custody in Mexico after leaving the United States following the crash on Father’s Day in June.

Officials said that she was speeding on June 16 in a white Lexus, ran a red light, and hit a Nissan Murano. The driver of the other car, 48-year-old Francisco Hernandez Rivas, died, Fox News reported.

According to KTLA, she was apprehended in Mexico before she was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals at the Los Angeles International Airport.

She was booked on Aug. 17 in a Los Angeles County jail and is being held on more than $2 million bond, the report noted.

Other than the death of Rivas, Lara’s four passengers were critically injured in the accident. The surviving victims were reported to be in stable condition, KTLA reported.

In surveillance footage reviewed by the broadcaster, Lara was seen exiting the Lexus before opening one of the back passenger doors. Then she walked away.

The footage also showed several empty beer cans inside the Lexus. The crash took place at around 5 a.m. local time.

Officials believe she sped through the red light while driving under the influence, and officials said she has a prior DUI conviction, KTLA reported.

Crash Deaths in the United States

Tens of thousands of people are killed and millions injured each year from motor vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC says these deaths cost more than $380 million in direct medical costs.

The major risk factors for crash deaths in the United States are not using seat belts, car seats, and booster seats (factors in over 9,500 crash deaths); drunk driving (a factor in more than 10,000 crash deaths); and speeding (contributing to more than 9,500 crash deaths).

According to 2017 data from the CDC, the 10 leading causes of death in the United States were: heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide.

These further break down as follows: the most common are unintentional poisoning deaths (58,335), followed by motor vehicle traffic deaths (40,327), and unintentional fall deaths in third place (34,673).

The total number of emergency department visits for unintentional injuries in the United States in 2017 was 30.8 million, according to the CDC.

The 10 leading causes accounted for 74 percent of all deaths in the United States in 2017.

Facts About Crime in the United States

Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (pdf).

The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.

The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the BJS’s NCVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.

The FBI recently released preliminary data for 2018. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January to June 2018, violent crime rates in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.

While the overall rate of violent crime has seen a steady downward drop since its peak in the 1990s, there have been several upticks that bucked the trend.

Between 2014 and 2016, the murder rate increased by more than 20 percent, to 5.4 per 100,000 residents, from 4.4, according to an Epoch Times analysis of FBI data. The last two-year period that the rate soared so quickly was between 1966 and 1968.

Epoch Times reporter Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.