Grieving family of teenage hit-and-run victim speaks

Desert Hot Springs, Calif. - A deadly hit and run driver is being sought by Desert Hot Springs Police. Tuesday, the victim's family spoke out about the tragedy for the first time. They described Reuben Guzman as a young man full of love, life, and forgiveness.

A truck crashed into Guzman around 5:30 p.m. January 9th near Tedesco Park in Desert Hot Springs. Guzman was riding his bicycle with one of his best friends on the handlebars, but that teenager avoided serious injury.

Guzman had just turned 16 years old.

"He put every passion he had into everything he did. He was talented," Michelle Guzman said of her son. "He liked to sing. He liked to dance."

Guzman's mother, grandparents, aunts, and uncle gathered in front of the Desert Hot Springs Police Department to make a plea to the driver who pulled over briefly after the crash, and then took off.

"Please come forward and turn yourself in," Guzman's grandmother, Victoria Mendoza, said. "Otherwise, you will have to live the rest of your life with this tragedy alone."

Desert Hot Springs Police described the suspects vehicle as a light gray 2000 to 2001 Nissan Frontier. One witness stated the truck had four full doors and a small circular sticker in the lower right corner of the back window. A second witness indicated the windshield was damaged. The vehicle likely has substantial damage to the front bumper, grill, and hood.

The truck was traveling north bound on West Drive, near the intersection at West Arroyo when the crash happened.

"We do not have a suspect description at this time," Desert Hot Springs Police Chief, Daniel Bressler said. "We are in the process of canvassing the neighborhood. We're trying to contact witnesses, looking for people to come forward."

Bressler says there is evidence the driver may not have been at fault.

"To leave the scene you're turning it into a felony," Bressler said. "You're turning it into tremendous grief for the family. Even more so than they've already suffered."

Guzman's family hopes the community can come together and assist police in putting an end to all too frequent hit and runs in DHS.

"These hit and run accidents need to stop," Guzman's grandfather, Larry Mendoza said. "It's happening way too often and way too many. All of the families that are suffering from this. These people are thinking they can just get away with it."

Those with information can call Valley Crime Stoppers at 760-341-STOP (7867). Tips can remain anonymous.

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