Mother of 19-year-old killed in hit-and-run speaks out

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SAN DIEGO -- The mother of a hit-and-run victim is speaking out one month after her 19-year-old daughter was killed.

Shortly before 10 p.m. on July 8, 19-year-old Briella Rojas was walking on state Route 94 when she was hit by an SUV and died at the scene. The driver left before emergency personnel arrived.

For several days after the crash, authorities couldn't identify the victim. The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office turned to social media, posting pictures of the tattoo on Briella's neck.

Two days after the accident, Briella's mother, Lisa Rojas, knew something wasn't right. It was Lisa's birthday, and she hadn't received the usual phone call from her daughter.

"I always woke up with that phone call from her. She called me every birthday," Lisa said.

The days passed and Lisa still heard nothing. It wasn't until Comic-Con when Lisa, a shuttle bus driver, got a phone call from the coroner.

"My daughter had been tragically killed," Lisa said.

Her grief was compounded by the fact that the only picture authorities had of her daughter was of a younger, more rebellious Briella.

"Briella had dreams and aspirations," Lisa said. "She had wanted to become an attorney. She had went away to a program in Michigan."

Briella leaves behind her only son, 2-year-old King, whose name was on the tattoo that finally revealed to authorities who Briella was.

"She was a mother, a daughter, she was an aunt," Lisa said. "It's like my whole world stopped."

Friends and family will gather Wednesday night in memory of Rojas. A GoFundMe campaign is raising money to help pay for expenses associated with Briella's funeral service.

Police are still searching for the driver. The vehicle, a gray or light-blue 2004- to 2008-model Toyota 4Runner, hit Briella on the westbound side of the freeway near 28th Street, according to the California Highway Patrol.

It remains unclear why Briella was on the roadway. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Highway Patrol at 619-220-5492 or 858-637-3800.

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