NORWALK — The driver of a truck that fled the scene after fatally striking a 20-year-old Norwalk man earlier this month remained at large Wednesday, as family members offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Daniel Michael Ortiz died shortly after he was struck by a pickup truck while he was crossing Studebaker Road near Foster Road on his skateboard, within a marked intersection, shortly before 4:20 a.m. Feb. 9, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said. The truck was headed northbound.
The lifelong Norwalk resident and former quarterback at Norwalk High School was a fun and well-liked young man, said his sister, Teresa Macias.
“He always joked around. He was really funny,” Macias said. “If you were sad, he would make you laugh.”
Daniel Ortiz was an avid athlete, who had been playing T-ball at age 4, Macias said. He also enjoyed taking part in baseball and basketball.
“He was a hard worker,” the sister added. Ortiz had been working installing surveillance cameras.
“Outside of sports, Daniel had a passion for skateboarding and pretty girls,” according to a statement authored by family members and distributed on the program at his memorial service earlier this week.
“Daniel was an amazing person with a heart of gold. He was generous, outgoing and loved in a big way,” the statement continued. “He would want us to celebrate his life and and hold the memories he left us close to our hearts.”
More than a week after the fatal collision, Macias said family members are growing eager for justice.
“The family’s offering a $5,000 reward,” she said.
Ortiz was on his way home from a friend’s house when he was struck, sheriff’s Detective Steve Boyer said.
Though no witnesses have come forward to report seeing the fatal collision, investigators have since developed additional information about the hit-and-run vehicle.
It was initially described only as a metallic blue vehicle. But detectives recovered parts from the truck — such as headlight pieces — which allowed them to narrow down the search.
“The parts had part numbers on them, and they belong to a Nissan Titan,” Boyer said. The truck was from model years 2003 through 2006 and was dark metallic blue.
No description of the driver was available, and detectives continued reviewing nearby surveillance camera footage for clues, Boyer said.
The fatal collision was first reported to authorities by a passer-by who noticed Ortiz lying in the street, then flagged down an ambulance and a sheriff’s car, according to the detective.
Teresa Macias said the tragedy was further compounded by the fact that the driver fled the scene without making any attempt to help Daniel Ortiz, even though there was a hospital several doors down the street.
“When he hit (Daniel Ortiz) he could have just picked him and taken him (to the hospital),” Macias said.
Daniel Ortiz suffered two broken wrists, a broken leg and internal injuries when struck, his sister said. She said it appeared from his injuries that he held his hands out as if to protect himself just before the impact.
And because her brother was crossing the street in a marked crosswalk, Macias said she suspected the driver was intoxicated.
“If it is a drunk driver, he needs to be convicted,” she said. “He needs to realize this is something that’s serious.”
In addition to his sister, Ortiz is survived by two brothers, Joe Macias and Michael Ortiz, as well as parents Danny and Sherrie Ortiz.
A funeral was held Monday at the Chapel of Memories in Norwalk, Macias said.
“It was so beautiful,” she said, estimating that about 400 people attended.
Macias and Boyer asked anyone with information to contact the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711.