San Diego

Grandfather Killed in Hit-and-Run on Busy Spring Valley Road

The family of a man, hit and killed on a busy Spring Valley street, said he had been dropped off by his stepdaughter moments before the crash.

James Martinez, 75, was crossing Sweetwater Road late Tuesday night when he was hit.

His family told NBC 7, his stepdaughter dropped him off across the street after visiting her mother in the nursing home. They said Martinez didn't want his stepdaughter in any danger, so he wanted to get dropped off in the easiest spot possible for her.

“He was like ‘just drop me off right here, you keep on going and I'm just going to walk one block to [my] house’. All he was trying to do was to get home on a street that he crossed all the time thinking that he was safe, and obviously he wasn't," said Martinez’ daughter-in-law, Tia Martinez.

His family knows him as Sunny, a man that would do just about anything for anyone. He was born in Colorado but spent most of his life in San Diego and is a graduate of San Diego High School.

He was also a veteran, and served four years in the military as a Paratrooper, his family said.

Martinez comes from a big family; four sons and one daughter, as well as a stepdaughter.

He was coming back from visiting his long-time companion and stepdaughter's mother, whom he went to go see almost every day since she moved into a nearby nursing home.

NBC 7's Liberty Zabala reports on the tragic collision that occurred Tuesday night in Spring Valley along Sweetwater Road.

Martinez' grandson, Cameron, reflected on the tragedy, adding that this comes as such a shock and it really puts things into perspective.

“This situation just really goes to show you can't take life for granted. For example, last night I went to the taco shop, came back with a burrito and then found out my Grandpa got hit by a car, within five minutes. You can't take life for granted because anything could happen," he said.

Andrew Thoozen, 18, was arrested a few blocks from the crash scene. He's set to face a judge on Friday for felony hit and run causing death.

Police have identified a driver accused of striking and killing a father as he walked across the street in Spring Valley. NBC 7’s Liberty Zabala shares the latest details.
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