A community is coming together, mourning the tragic death of Jacob Greenwald, a 20-year-old Spring Valley man. Investigators say he was walking home from work and was just blocks away when a driver hit him. NBC 7's Candice Nguyen reports.
A pedestrian was killed in a hit-and-run accident early Sunday morning, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office.
According to the ME, the 20-year-old man was walking home from work on Campo Road, west of North Granada Road, in Spring Valley. A car struck him just before 4 a.m. and drove off.
Friends have identified the victim as Jacob Greenwald. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
On Sunday afternoon, California Highway Patrol officials announced they had arrested Jason Michael Palmer, 33, of Spring Valley in connection to the crash.
The CHP said Palmer was driving a 2008 Toyota 4Runner when he hit the victim and sped away. Officials found the front license plate at the scene, which was registered to a relative of Palmer.
Officials said Palmer left the SUV in the 8500-block of Hurlbut Street in Serra Mesa. As they were processing the vehicle, Palmer was spotted driving by slowly.
He was arrested without incident, according to CHP. He had the keys to the 4Runner in his pocket.
Palmer was booked into county jail on felony hit and run and felony manslaughter charges. CHP believes alcohol or drugs factored into the crash, and more charges could be filed.
CHP said Palmer has an extensive criminal history, including a DUI arrest in 2000. Also, NBC 7 has learned Palmer was released from prison early because of Assembly Bill 109, which aims to reduce prison overcrowding.
Meanwhile, friends and neighbors were shocked to learn of Greenwald’s death.
“I don’t want to think about it. I feel like it’s not true,” said Karen McCluan, who dated Greenwald in 2010.
“He was sweet and funny. He could make anything into a joke," she added. "He liked to help out people."
“Anything he set his mind to, he could do it,” said Tracy McCluan.
“He has so much potential.”
A group of neighbors made posters for Greenwald’s candlelight vigil.
“He was really nice," said Devina Hoss, who would visit Greenwald at the McDonald's where he worked with her grandmother.
A note was posted on the door of the Greenwald house, thanking visitors and asking them to leave their names and numbers.