Family grieves the loss of father/husband after a New Year’s Day hit and run accident.
By Mary O’KEEFE
A 49-year-old La Crescenta man has died due to injuries incurred after being involved in a hit and run accident at 7 p.m. on Jan. 1. The Glendale City Council will consider a $10,000 reward for the identification and arrest of the hit and run suspect driver.
The accident occurred about 7 p.m. on New Year’s Day in the 3000/3100 block of Montrose Avenue, between Liberty and Ramsdell avenues. Joo Lee was crossing the street to get his daughter who was visiting at a friend’s home.
“Montrose Avenue is wide and [Lee] had apparently stopped in the median to allow cars to cross,” said Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
Lee was crossing from the south side of Montrose Avenue to the north. A vehicle that was traveling westbound on Montrose stopped or slowed down, yielding to the pedestrian.
“Another car drove [around] and passed the [yielding] car. That car struck [Lee]. He was thrown about 70 feet,” said Sgt. Dennis Smith, Glendale police traffic bureau.
Neither driver, of the car that slowed or the one that hit the man, stopped. Both continued to drive westbound on Montrose Avenue.
Lee’s wife, Kyoung, urged the city to make changes. “To the city I want to say these streets are very dark; there’s no lights. We can’t see anything at night and the cars drive very fast. It’s very dangerous. I want speed bumps or lights here.”
Police have little details on either driver however the one common thread in witness accounts is the vehicle that struck Lee was some type of SUV.
“We have been given two colors by witnesses, either black or white,” said Investigator William Frommling. He added that description was not uncommon for the darkened avenue.
Investigators believe that someone may have seen the suspect driving erratically before or after the accident. The vehicle sustained front-end damage and possibly a broken windshield.
“The speed [which the suspect was driving] was up fairly high and should leave damage to the vehicle,” Frommling said.
Police are also interested in the driver of the vehicle that yielded to Lee as he was crossing. He, or she, may have information on the hit and run vehicle.
The man or woman driver that yielded to the pedestrian did not break any laws by leaving the scene, Smith said. “But we would really like to talk to that driver. We know he or she saw a vehicle drive around the car but we don’t know if the driver was aware of the man being hit,” he said.
Several people came out of their homes after the accident and many comforted the family who had witnessed the tragedy.
“I came out of the Verdugo Vista [Health Care] after visiting my mother. The young daughter, Suzie, was there on the street,” said Crescenta Valley resident Richard Tovo.
“When I approached her she just passed out. I stayed and comforted her until a family or friend came over,” he said.
Lee was transported to Huntington Memorial Hospital and was in ICU until he passed away shortly after midnight on Wednesday.
Though visibly distraught, Kyoung made a plea to the public. “To the driver who hit my husband I want to say why didn’t you stop and take care of my husband?”
Lee is survived by his wife and two daughters, Amy, 26, and Suzie, 17, a student at Crescenta Valley High School.
Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the hit and run driver.
“We are doing everything we can. We have placed electronic billboards on Montrose Avenue with our contact information. The only way this is going to be solved is with the police and the community working together,” Frommling said.
Lee was the sole provider for his family. The Crescenta Valley Weekly is working with LOOK, Prom Plus and other CVHS clubs and organizations along with the support of the Glendale police to establish a foundation for the family. Students will be involved in a fund drive at several local grocery stores and businesses in the area in the coming days and weeks. A larger fundraiser is being planned for the family. For information on how to help or where to send donations stop by the CV Weekly office at 3800 La Crescenta Ave. or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (818) 248-2740.
Anyone with information concerning the accident can contact the Glendale police through CrimeStoppers at (818) 507-7867 or the Glendale police department at (818) 548-4840. Any information is valuable to officers and can be considered confidential.
Witnesses are urged to call Investigator Bill Frommling at (818) 548-3132 or (818) 548-4840 (after hours). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call the toll free number 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or send a tip via text by: 1 – Text ‘TIPLA’ plus your message’ to CRIMES (274637); 2 – Upon reception of a tipster’s first incoming message, the system will auto-reply with a confirmation containing their unique Tip ID. 3; To submit follow-up information, the tipster simply replies. Nothing else is needed. All calls, texts or emails received are encrypted; no one can capture the caller’s location, identification, or phone number.