An 18-year-old driver pleaded guilty to striking and killing a grandfather crossing a busy Spring Valley street in February, then fleeing the scene, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's office.
Andrew Thoozen, 18, pleaded guilty to hit-and-run causing death in a crash that left James Martinez, 75, dead.
Martinez, a veteran, spent most of his life in San Diego. He served four years in the military as a Paratrooper.
In February, Martinez's stepdaughter dropped him off near Sweetwater Road after a visit to a nearby nursing home. 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.
Martinez's family 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.
Police say the Martinez's stepdaughter had just dropped him off when she heard brakes screeching, looked in the rearview mirror, and saw a car hit her stepfather.
At the time, the suspect drove off, traveling northbound on Sweetwater Road.
Officers say found the suspect and driver in an apartment complex off of Troy Street
Thoozen was arrested a few blocks from the crash scene and later charged.
He will be sentenced on Aug. 22.