San Diego

SoCal Residents Who Lost Loved Ones to Street Racing Speak Up Amid Increase in Reports

California Highway Patrol said it's received 3,500 more calls of street racing in 2020 than in 2019

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A couple of broken-hearted Southern Californians whose lives changed forever after they lost loved ones to street racing opened up on Friday warning the public of the dangers and heartache it causes.

“On May 11, 2019, my niece was killed by a young man that was street racing on a residential street,” said Lori Argumedo, the aunt of a street racing victim. “He was going about 80 miles when he hit her, pretty much crushing every bone in my niece’s body.”

Teaming up with the California Highway Patrol (CHP), Automobile Club of Southern California and Street Racing Kills, Argumedo shared how one person’s decision devastated her family. Now, she’s on a mission to warn other families about the tragic consequences of street racing.

Argumedo told NBC 7 that it’s still difficult for her to talk about the day her niece, Bethany, died. However, she powers through her grief to share her message because she said it’s essential for young people to know the details.

“The youth need to hear the truth, they need to know what’s happening,” Argumedo said. “They need to know the details what happens when you street race and you kill somebody. Or yourself could be killed and parents having to bury somebody.”

Oceanside police are looking for the driver involved in a deadly street racing crash.

Lili Trujillo Pucket, another SoCal resident, shared how she lost her 16-year-old daughter, Valentina, to dangerous driving.

“On December 7, 2013, I lost my daughter to street racing and at the time, I didn’t know what street racing was,” Trujillo Pucket said.

The mother shared how her heart breaks every time she hears of a crash, and it serves as a painful reminder of her late loved one.

“The pain of losing a child is unexplainable,” she said. “The pain of a mother, where one second your child is there and the next second they’re not, it’s not normal.”

The dangerous trend increased during the coronavirus pandemic, according to CHP.

In 2020, the agency received more than 25,000 calls involving illegal street racing. That’s 3,500 more than in 2019, it said.

Just earlier this month, a 27-year-old man died during a suspected street racing crash in Oceanside. And back in June, a 57-year-old woman was killed and her two grandchildren injured by a suspected wrong-way street racer in Chula Vista.

A man was killed in a suspected street racing crash Friday night in Oceanside, police said. NBC 7's Catherine Garcia has more.

“Unfortunately, road racing has become an epidemic during this pandemic,” said Matt Shupe of the Automobile Club. “With the roads being less crowded, people have more time on their hands and they’re engaging in this illegal and deadly activity.”

Aside from painful stories shared to the public to raise awareness, other efforts have been made to curb street racing.

The California state legislature passed Assembly Bill 3, which would increase penalties for street racing. Under the bill, people who attend illegal street races or sideshows can get their driver’s license suspended, even if they are not behind the wheel.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Oct. 10 to sign it into law.

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