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Hawthorne Hit-And-Runs End In Mob Violence

Car Crash

01/22/11 01:03 AM ET   AP

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — In a bizarre and deadly chain of events, a pedestrian was twice struck by hit-and-run drivers, the woman who came to his aid was also hit, and finally the driver trying to help her was beaten and robbed by a mob, police said Friday.

The crashes on a busy Los Angeles-area boulevard left a man dead, a woman injured, a suspect arrested, and detectives stunned.

"This one had us scratching our heads," Capt. Mike Ishi told the Los Angeles Times. "It's in a league of its own."

It began when a minivan hit a man Wednesday night as he crossed Crenshaw Boulevard in a spot without a crosswalk, Hawthorne Police Lt. Gary Tomatoni said in a statement. The driver fled the scene.

The man was then run over by a second vehicle, Tomatoni said. That driver also failed to stop.

One of several people who ran to help the man and tried to stop oncoming traffic was hit by a car herself.

That driver stopped to help the woman, but he was attacked by others who had run into the street, who beat him and stole his cell phone, Tomatoni said.

The man escaped from the crowd and fled in his car, but returned after police arrived and pointed out one of his assailants.

Police arrested Tran Moore Lewis, 32, of Long Beach, on suspicion of robbery.

Detectives were amazed at the strange set of accidents and even stranger behavior.

"I've never seen anything like this in all my years in Hawthorne," Ishi said.

The initial hit-and-run victim was declared dead at a hospital, police said.

The woman who was hit was taken to a hospital but her injuries were not life-threatening, police said.

Their names have not been released.

Police were still looking for the gray or white minivan that first hit the man.

After talking to witnesses police were able to locate the second driver and impounded his vehicle, the statement said. Police were weighing whether to arrest that man.

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Filed by Anna Almendrala  |