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Mother, Son Hurt in Hit-Run Near School

July 07, 2001|CAROL CHAMBERS and RICHARD FAUSSET | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Los Angeles police are asking the public's help in finding a motorist who ran down a mother and her 3-year-old son in Pacoima on Friday, in front of nearly 40 children walking to a nearby elementary school.

The driver was described as a male Latino, 25 to 30, wearing a baseball cap. Witnesses said he was in a gray or dark brown sport utility vehicle or truck with a camper shell, possibly a Chevrolet, GMC or Ford. Police were given a partial license plate number beginning with 4RGX. The vehicle would probably have front-end damage, police said.

The accident occurred at 7:50 a.m., just before first bell at Pacoima Elementary School at Van Nuys Boulevard and Norris Avenue.

Pacoima resident Hortencia Castillo, 31, was carrying her son Angel in her arms and had just dropped two older sons off at school, according to police and school officials. She and Angel were struck by the westbound vehicle while crossing Van Nuys Boulevard in a marked crosswalk, police said.

Castillo, a mother of four, was taken by ambulance to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills with multiple leg fractures, police said.

Her son suffered a fractured skull and was airlifted to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, where he was admitted to an intensive care unit in critical condition. He was unconscious and breathing with the aid of a ventilator, hospital spokesman Steve Rutledge said.

Although the driver pulled over just after the accident, he fled the scene when he saw patrol cars approaching, Police Det. Jim Mann said.

"Our first unit arrived on scene in about 30 seconds, but they couldn't locate the driver," said Sgt. Bill Justice of the LAPD's Valley traffic division. "With the public's help, we're hoping to get this guy for felony hit-and-run."

Mann said there were no skid marks at the scene. "He never stopped. He just wasn't paying attention, probably," he said.

Pacoima Elementary, a year-round school, was finishing its first week of a new semester Friday. Counselors were on hand to work with children who saw the collision, said Los Angeles Unified School District counselor Andrea Shirley.

Anyone with information is asked to call the LAPD Valley traffic division at (818) 756-8381.

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