San Diego police are asking the public for help tracking down a hit-and-run driver who struck a 47-year-old man putting his child inside his car in the Redwood Village neighborhood, seriously injuring the man before crashing into a second vehicle and speeding away.
The first crash happened about 3 p.m. in the Food for Less parking lot at 5975 University Ave., San Diego police Officer Robert Heims said.
Tu Hoang Lam was helping his 6-year-old son get buckled into the back seat of his silver 2017 Toyota Corolla when Lam was struck by someone driving a silver Saturn Vue. Lam was pinned against his car and suffered a pelvic fracture and other serious injuries. He was transported to Scripps Mercy in San Diego for treatment and in serious condition. The child was not hurt, Heims said.
Lam's son actually played the role of hero, according to the family. Even though he witnessed his father get hit by the SUV, he was alert enough to unlock his father’s phone for a witness who came running over and help them get to a family member’s phone number.
Investigators said the driver of the compact SUV stayed in that spot for about 10 seconds, with the Saturn pinned against the Toyota, but then, as pedestrians approached, the driver backed up and drove away, exiting onto Redwood Street.
Video of the Saturn, which has damage to the driver's-side front turn signal and bumper, was briefly captured by a security camera at a nearby business.
The hit-and-run driver fled west out of the parking lot. A description of the driver is not yet available.
A GoFundMe was set up for Lam and his family by his younger brother Ben Xavier: "Tu is a sweet and gentle father of two small kids. His wife and family can truly use our support." So far, more than $13,000 has been raised.
Lam's brother spoke with NBC 7 on Monday and said the entire family is in shock.
"Your mind just loses all focus. I see it in the kids; I see it in his wife; I see it in all of our family," Xavier said. "So, you know, the best thing for us to do right now is to rally."
Xavier said his brother is in a medically-induced coma and had already undergone two emergency surgeries by Monday night.
Anyone with information on this crash was asked to call the SDPD at 619-531-2000 or 858-484-3154, or a tip can be called in anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest.