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One Killed in Deadly Hit-and-Run Crash in Canoga Park

A 20-year-old man was killed early Tuesday morning when a driver in a pickup truck broadsided a sedan, then fled the scene of the crash in Canoga Park.

Police are now looking for the driver responsible for the hit-and-run crash, which sent the sedan flying into a nearby telephone pole and scattered debris along the street.

The speed limit in the intersection of De Soto Avenue and Vanowen Street is, at maximum, 40 miles per hour. But traffic investigators say they believe the driver of the pickup was going at least 80 mph.

The black Dodge Ram 1500 truck struck the Lexus sedan just before 12:30 a.m.

The LAPD confirmed the driver of the Dodge was traveling at a high speed, at least 80 mph, and possibly blew a red light before striking the Lexus. The driver of the Lexus was killed in the crash, and died at the scene.

“I heard the big car crash,” said nearby Canoga Park resident Reuben Velasquez. “A loud explosion, that’s all I heard. I was just on my couch, relaxing, watching TV, and all I heard was ‘Boom!'”

Velasquez and several other residents left their apartments to see what was going on, and to attempt to help the driver when they saw the crash.

LAPD traffic investigators are searching for the driver of the pickup after he fled the scene, leaving his truck behind. Police bloodhounds were looking for that driver, who officers do not believe made it very far from the area.

Trinkets and bicycles were found in the back of the pickup truck, leading investigators to believe the driver deals in sales.

At least one witness, a third driver traveling in another car, was present during the crash. That driver was moving in the same direction as the man who died, side-by-side with them as the light went from red to green.

“That witness was actually right next to the victim,” said Andrew Neiman of the LAPD. “And really the only thing that saved him was that he was driving a manual stick-shift, and the victim was in an automatic. So that allowed the victim to get into the intersection and across before he did.”

The victim was identified by the coroner’s office as 20-year-old Nelson Castaneda, of Canoga Park.

The intersection will likely be closed for the majority of the morning due to the investigation.

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