Robert Diaz was out for his nightly amble in his wheelchair, which he had used for more than 25 years due to an accident that left him a quadriplegic, when he tried to cross Artesia Boulevard at Rose Street and was hit by a four-door car heading east on Artesia, family and police said.
"He led a very difficult, compromised
A witness to the crash said the driver of the car, described as a light-colored Honda Civic or Accord or a silver Nissan Altima, pulled around the corner at Gardenia Street and got out of his vehicle and began walking toward Diaz, said Sgt. Aaron Eaton, a Long Beach Police Department spokesman.
The witness, meanwhile, went to flag down a patrol car passing nearby. But when the officers pulled up to the scene of the crash the driver and his car were gone, Eaton
The driver was described as Hispanic, in his 30 s, 6 feet tall, 190 to 200 pounds, with black hair and wearing a white shirt and jeans.
Diaz was rushed to a local hospital, where he was initially in serious but stable condition. He was pronounced dead the following day.
It was just two weeks after his mother suffered a stroke, and his death has left her and the rest of his family devastated, relatives said.
"Our family has suffered greatly," Jason Diaz said. "My
"If anybody could please give us any leads, any information they have, we would be grateful."
Diaz was a fiercely independent man who remained optimistic despite his paralysis and health battles, his family said.
He had a great sense of humor, which he turned on himself as much as his friends and family, and he was known to all the local neighbors and businesses as he made his daily trips around his North Long Beach neighborhood.
He and his ex-wife, Rose Arencibia, remained close friends despite their divorce and she recalled him as an amazing person who cared for everyone in his family.
"He took life in stride and he always gave
She and her son were joined by two of Diaz's brothers in speaking at the press conference. Under gray skies the family huddled together and recalled how Diaz had touched all their lives and how difficult this holiday season will be not having him there.
"We also are a family of faith and we also know that God will carry us through this and hopefully bring this man to justice," Diaz said.
Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call Accident Investigations Detective Sirilo Garcia at 562-570-7355.
Tipsters who wish to remain anonymous may call 800-222-TIPS (8477), text TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or go to www.lacrimestoppers.org.