TORRANCE (CBSLA.com) – A 16-year-old boy was killed — and his father seriously injured — in a three-vehicle hit-and-run collision Tuesday night in Torrance that led to the arrest of a man on vehicular manslaughter charges. A second driver who fled the scene remains at large.
The collision occurred at 10:09 p.m. at the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Crest Road, according to Torrance police.
A 2004 Audi A6 and a 2014 Mercedes Benz GLK350 were both traveling north on Crenshaw when they ran a red light and collided with a 2000 Toyota Sienna van that was making a left turn, police said.
The Sienna was carrying 47-year-old Jesse Esphorst and his 16-year-old son, Jesse Esphorst Jr. Both were transported to a hospital, where Esphorst Jr. was pronounced dead. His father was in serious condition with undisclosed injuries.
“I saw it was Jesse’s dad and immediately knew it was Jesse,” said friend and neighbor who was one of the first people on scene.
“Shock, panic, I need to let his family know, because I knew that they didn’t know, because he lives right up there. So, I immediately just called his sister and his mom and they came down, that’s how they found out.”
According to police, the Benz and Audi had been involved in a prior, minor collision in Rancho Palos Verdes. The Audi fled that crash scene and the Benz followed, prompting the second collision involving the Sienna.
After the second crash, the Audi fled the scene. It was later found abandoned. As of Wednesday, the driver remains at large. The driver of the Benz, a 21-year-old Rancho Palos Verdes man, stayed at the scene. He was taken to a hospital for examination and later arrested on vehicular manslaughter charges.
Esphorst Jr., a sophomore at South High School, hit a two-run home run earlier that evening in a baseball game against Hawthorne High School. South High won the game 13-3.
A large crowd of classmates, teammates and rivals gathered for a vigil Wednesday on the baseball field after school.
“We’ll hug, and we’ll shed a lot of tears, share a lot of stories, and just be there for each other, all that’s all we can do, and that’s what we will do,” South High baseball coach Grady Sain said.
“He was one of the most respected kids I’ve ever coached,” Sain added.
“People know him cause of baseball, but there’s so much more to him than just that,” friend Colton Kruger told CBS2. “Just love. He loved everyone, he didn’t hate anybody. He treated everyone like family.”
In a Facebook post, Esphorst’s sister wrote Thursday:
“Last night my brother and nephew were in a senseless car accident. I still can’t believe it. Hard to put into words the pain and loss we are all feeling right now. My 16 year old nephew was killed and my brother is in ICU.”
A post on the South High Spartan Baseball Facebook page read, “We will miss you, #10! Information on how you can help the Esphorst Family will be shared here as soon as it becomes available. Thank you for your support of SHS Baseball during this very difficult time.”
Torrance police are investigating. Anyone with information on the incident should call 310-618-5557.