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$50K Reward Offered In Hit-and-Run of Beloved L.A. Pastor Mowed Down While Delivering Christmas Boxes to Needy: ‘It’s Not Right’

Two vigils will be held this week to remember the life of a California pastor fatally hit by a car in the Broadway-Manchester area in South Los Angeles on Christmas Eve.

The foster mother of 10 was delivering food and other gifts to a women’s shelter when a driver hit her and kept going.

Now a reward for information is being offered to anyone with a lead to an arrest of the driver.

Pastor killed in hit-and-run
Trina Newman-Townsend was killed by a hit-and-run driver while delivering food and gifts to a women’s shelter on Dec. 24, 2022. (Photo: GoFundMe)

Officer Matthew Cruz from the Los Angeles Police Department reported on Saturday, Dec. 24, around 3:27 p.m., the person in a blue mid-size sedan speeding northbound on South Broadway struck and killed Trina Newman-Townsend, a 62-year-old minister walking to her car after spreading Christmas joy to women and children in crisis, according to CBS News.

One witness said Newman-Townsend had been crossing the street to drop off donations when the sedan came flying up at approximately 40 mph. The car then struck the open door, and the victim and fled northbound through a red light on South Broadway, never stopping to render aid or check on her status.

Officers pronounced her dead at the scene of the crime, a devastating moment that transpired right before three of her children’s eyes.

“She had three children in the car with her that witnessed this, and I know they need some closure. I know they need some help,” the woman’s brother Dwayne Newman said. “They don’t understand the loss yet because they are so young.”

The children are not the only ones devastated by the horrific holiday tragedy. So are adult relatives of the mother and grandmother.

Newman said, “It’s just a somber day to mourn my sister on Christmas.”

An investigation has been launched to find the person responsible for her death. Detectives arrived at the scene of the hit-and-run on Monday, Dec. 26, to search for clues to the person’s identity and will be reviewing surveillance footage from nearby businesses, hoping additional evidence will emerge.

Officials are now offering a $50,000 reward to anyone with information that leads them to the identification and arrest of the suspect.

The minister’s brother said she always went the extra mile for others, NBC Los Angeles reported.

The community has been memorializing Newman-Townsend each day since she was hit. A Christmas tree, candles, a unicorn balloon, and other items have been placed on the sidewalk near the site of the accident. One person wrote on the pavement a dedication to her, “We love you, Auntie Trina.”

“My sister was a beautiful spirit,” Newman said. “Very soulful and generous person. She had children that she adopted and brought in. She was always giving to the homeless and charities.”

The brother shared that before his sister was run down, she had been making ribbons for a childhood friend’s funeral.

He said, “She’s going to be deeply missed. Infinity times infinity.”

Her daughter Amarrie Nicasio reminded people that Newman-Townsend did not only foster the 10 children but also raised her grandchildren, saying, “She helped everybody. She gave back to the community in every way she could. Whoever did this needs to step up and turn yourself in.”

Her husband, Curtis Townsend, said at a Sunday memorial his wife “died doing what she loved to do. She was giving out Christmas boxes, hams. So for this to happen, it’s not right.”

According to Churchleaders.com, Pastor Kenneth Pitchford, a family friend, also spoke on Sunday and said, “She was everything to this community. Everybody is heart-stricken at this moment. Words can’t describe what she means to this community.”

Two additional vigils were held on Wednesday, Dec. 28, and Thursday, Dec. 29.

The brother said he is now praying this will help bring some form of justice to the family, pleading, “If you have any kind of compassion in your heart, if you have any kind of mercy, any sympathy, any humanity, please help us and just turn yourself in.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support the family as they prepare for her homegoing.

Maryann Arnita Payne-Benjamin and Callie Harvey set the profile up on behalf of the family with this tribute: “Selfless is an understatement. Her doors remained open to family, friends, foster children, or basically anyone that was in need.”

“No matter how busy or tired she was, she’d make your needs her priority. If she had it, she gave it without hesitation or expecting a return. If she couldn’t provide by her own means, she’d gathered the village to make way,” the bereaved family shared.

Of the $20,000 goal, the family’s crowdfunding campaign has raised less than $5,000.

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