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Maywood honors citizens for detaining hit-and-run suspect

MAYWOOD — City officials honored three men at the City Council meeting March 8 who helped detain a suspected intoxicated driver involved in a fatal hit and run.

Sergio Ramirez, Daniel Ortiz and Jesse Rodriguez were each presented with certificates of recognition by the City Council.

The suspect, Leopoldo Acuna Leon, reportedly crashed his late model Dodge Charger at high speed into parked cars at Heliotrope Avenue and 59th Place on March 3.

Ramirez, a resident of Maywood, said the crash was violent. He said he saw the two pedestrians who were hit get hurled in the air by the impact. The vehicle was headed west and ended up facing east after the impact.

Jose Luis Lopez, 28, was pronounced dead at a hospital. A 24-year-old male was treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital the same day.

“It’s hard to find the right words to comfort the family,” Mayor Ramon Medina said. He also said he sincerely thanks Ramirez, Ortiz and Rodriguez for doing their civil duty.

“I feel happy that I was able to help and do something for my community,” Ramirez said. “It was an ugly incident. I yelled at [Leon] to stop. That’s when Jesse went after him.”

Rodriguez, a code enforcement officer, was speaking with Ramirez and other residents when the collision took place. Rodriguez’s vehicle was one of the vehicles hit. At least five vehicles were damaged in the collision.

Leon tried to flee the scene on foot. However, Rodriguez and Ortiz, who operates a street sweeper, followed him.

Rodriguez said he jumped into Ortiz’s street sweeper and followed Leon for at least 200 yards before he could tackle him.

“It was the right thing to do. I saw him running and I had do something. [My own safety] never crossed my mind,” Rodriguez said.

“I was just at the right place at the right time. I don’t consider myself a hero. I just did whatever I could to help [Rodriguez],” Ortiz said. “It feels awesome to be honored), but we’ll never get that life back. My condolences to the family for their loss.”

Deputies arrived at the scene at 2 p.m. when residents informed them that Rodriguez was detaining the suspect. Leon was arrested at the scene and booked at the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station.

Leon has two prior DUI convictions. He was arraigned at the Metropolitan Courthouse on March 7 for murder, felony hit and run, and felony driving under the influence. He is being held without the possibility of bail and is due back in court March 28.

 

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