Tragic Hit-and-Run Claims Lives in Exposition Park: Victims Identified

Two young lives were cut short in a devastating hit-and-run incident in Exposition Park, leaving a community in grief and seeking justice.

In the early hours of Monday morning, a hit-and-run crash unfolded in Exposition Park, leaving two individuals dead and a community in shock. The Los Angeles Fire Department swiftly responded to the scene on S. Normandie Avenue, where the tragic incident took place.

The alleged driver of the other vehicle involved, identified as Elmer Santos from Los Angeles, was apprehended by authorities. It is reported that Santos was operating a white Jeep Wrangler Rubicon when it collided with a white BMW that was exiting a drive-thru at the intersection of Normandie and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The two victims, identified as 20-year-old Kevin Castillo from Pomona and 20-year-old Maria Belen Polanco from Los Angeles, tragically lost their lives in the crash. Both were students at the University of Southern California, and their untimely deaths have left their community devastated.

Described as a “happy soul” and a beacon of positivity, Polanco is remembered fondly by friends and loved ones. A GoFundMe page created in her honor speaks to her radiant spirit and promising future. The heartfelt message expresses the disbelief and immense loss felt by those who knew her well.

Following the collision, Santos fled the scene on foot. However, thanks to the bravery of witnesses who gave chase and maintained visual contact, law enforcement officers were able to apprehend him at his residence.

Elmer Santos now faces serious charges, including suspicion of murder. As the investigation unfolds, LAPD Detective Ryan Moreno has revealed that Santos is being held on $2 million bail, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The pursuit of justice for the victims and their families is underway, as the community mourns the loss of two bright young individuals. Their lives were tragically cut short, reminding us of the fragility of life and the importance of holding accountable those responsible for such devastating acts.