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Fatal hit-and-run accident leads to mob beating

January 21, 2011 | 12:20 pm

A fatal hit-and-run in Hawthorne left one man dead, a good Samaritan injured by another car when she attempted to help, and the motorist who stopped to check on her after allegedly striking her beaten and robbed by a mob of bystanders.

The bizarre chain of events unfolded about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on a busy stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard near the 105 Freeway when a southbound driver struck a pedestrian walking across the street outside the crosswalk.

Hawthorne Police Lt. Gary Tomatoni said the driver of a white or gray minivan fled the scene and as the injured pedestrian lay in the street, a second vehicle ran over the man. That driver also failed to stop and provide aid.

Several pedestrians who saw the two cars hit the man ran to him to try to help. One of the good Samaritans was running across Crenshaw Boulevard toward the victim when she was hit by another motorist traveling southbound.

That motorist stopped to check on the woman, but as he did so, he was attacked by a mob of bystanders.

“These criminal bystanders assaulted the victim and ultimately stole his cellphone,” Tomatoni said. “This victimized driver was able to eventually free himself from the attack and fled the location in his vehicle.”

The man returned a few minutes later, reporting the traffic accident, as well as his assault and robbery, to responding police officers. As police investigators were interviewing the motorist, he saw one of his assailants getting into a nearby car.

Hawthorne police subsequently arrested Tran Lewis, 32, of Long Beach, on suspicion of robbery.

The pedestrian who had been struck by two cars died after being taken to a hospital.

Police found the second driver who hit him based on witness information. That driver was questioned and the vehicle impounded.


Police stunned by mob violence after 2 are hit by cars

-- Richard Winton