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Victim's Family Seeks Hit-Run Driver

Crime: A $25,000 reward is offered in the case of a young man struck in Big Bear. 'Life just can't be snuffed out with no accountability,' his father says.

January 25, 2002|TINA DIRMANN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Determined to catch the unidentified driver who ran down their son outside a Big Bear Lake restaurant, a Chino Hills family is offering a $25,000 reward, hoping that the cash and publicity will help uncover the person responsible for the 19-year-old's death.

With few clues to follow, deputies investigating the Dec. 17 hit-and-run death of Richard Peck are at a standstill. But the victim's father, Jim Peck, an information technology employee in Irvine, is leading a campaign in the small San Bernardino Mountains resort community, convinced that perseverance will lead authorities to an arrest.

"I don't think there's a soul in Big Bear who doesn't know Richard's story," said Jim Peck, "how some stranger hit him, dragged his body 15 feet.... I just don't want to get up at the end of the day and say I didn't do everything I could do to find that person."

So Peck, his wife, Brenda, and their five children, ages 8 to 26, have been tirelessly walking the streets of Big Bear and nearby Running Springs.

The Peck family has handed out more than 1,000 fliers announcing the $25,000 reward for information leading to the driver who ran down Peck outside a Denny's restaurant and then sped away. Just about every grocery store, gas station and mom-and-pop restaurant in the area has the flier in its window, with a grinning photo of the victim.

Cindy Beavers, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, said the family's efforts have touched investigators, who know what it's like to hit a wall in a case.

"We go through this all the time, where leads just aren't enough and the case just cannot be solved," she said. "We know what it's like to want so bad to solve a case."

Peck was struck about 9:45 p.m. The dark-colored sedan traveling west didn't stop, dragging him for several feet before speeding from the scene. Witnesses said the collision left the car with damage on its left side.

Although four families were dining at the restaurant, and a passenger in another car on the road saw the accident, investigators gathered little information about the car that hit Peck.

He moved to the Big Bear area last year. To support himself, he worked at a local drugstore, where he was hoping to begin a management training course after he turned 20 on Feb. 16.

"The underlying motivation here for me is that no parent wants to outlive a child," Peck said. "And there's a higher sense of justice between people. Life just can't be snuffed out with no accountability."

Anyone with information can call the Sheriff's Department at (909) 866-7581. Calls can be made anonymously.

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