‘I Don't Get Why It Happened': Mother Begs For Answers in Son's Hit-And-Run Death

"I still don't get why he was taken from me so soon," said the teen's mother.

The family of a teen boy found dead in the middle of a road, just days from his 16th birthday, is begging for witnesses to help solve the mystery of what happened to their son.

"I still don't get why he was taken from me so soon," said Veronica Cortez, victim Jonathan Cortez's mother. 

San Diego Police believe a Dodge Caravan struck Jonathan Friday evening and sped off. The incident happened in the 3600 block of 54th Street.

Police are investigating the death of the 15-year-old skateboarder as a hit-and-run and are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect.

Investigators said several vehicles swerved to avoid the teen who was lying in the road, but the Dodge Caravan hit Cortez.

It’s unclear whether the teen had been hit before being struck by the Caravan, police said. Witnesses reported seeing him skateboarding on the street before being hit.

On Sunday, family and friends gathered at a vigil on the day Jonathan was supposed to turn 16. 

"It was his birthday. I just want answers. I want answers," his mother said, crying. "It just, I, I don't get it. I don't get why it happened."

Earlier Monday, students at Crawford High School, where Jonathan was a student, held a ceremony for him with a slideshow. Students shared memories about their classmate, saying they would truly miss him. 

The family is heartbroken over the loss of their loved one, saying their son was loved by many in the community.

"He was a beautiful soul," his mother said. "He had the biggest heart. Always smiling."

Jonathan's mother and stepfather said they want justice for their son and are hoping new clues will help unlock the case. The death has been devastating for the family, especially for their youngest,  Jonathan's 5-year-old brother. 

"Last night he cried for hours after the vigil. He fell asleep crying. And he was still crying in his sleep for his big brother. He fell asleep holding the only piece of clothing we have left of him, of his sweater he was wearing," said his mother.

The suspect’s vehicle is described as a green Dodge Caravan with California license plate 4DQJ456. The vehicle has been sold the DMV registration information is not up to date.

His mother is hoping San Diegans will see the story, read the suspect vehicle description and help figure out what happened to her son. 

"I just want to beg anybody that has any information to please come forward," she said. "Any little bit helps." 

The fact that her son was killed, his body left in the middle of the street, makes Veronica angry.

"Whoever did [this], it's a cowardly act," she said. "Several people, if it was, left him on the road like he was an animal. Nobody stopped to help him."

Anyone with information should call the San Diego Police Department's traffic division at 858-495-7800 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 888-580-8477.

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