A grieving husband whose wife was killed in a hit-and-run motorcycle crash in California successfully led police to the suspected driver, according to police who arrested the man Friday.
Motorcyclist Brenda Richardson, a mother of eight children, was severely injured on February 5 after being hit by a driver who turned in front of her at an intersection. The driver fled the scene, according to the City of Corona Police Department.
On February 6, Richardson died due to her injuries, police said in a tweet.
One day later, her widowed husband, former police officer Rod Richardson, decided to find the person who killed his wife.
Corona Police Department arrested 85-year-old Toshiro Isa on February 7 and charged him with felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter, according to police.
“I’m not a revengeful person,” Rod told CNN. “And my wife in no way possible is revengeful. It was on my heart … my older girls to have some closure. I felt like I needed to go find the car that hit my wife.”
A mission for closure
Rod rode his motorcycle on February 7 to the scene of the accident, where he found a police officer also looking for the suspected vehicle.
Using a photo of what the car, identified by police as a 2006 Lexus ES330, might look like, Rod then started following cars into gated neighborhood communities in search of the Lexus.
After spending three hours investigating four different neighborhoods, Rod was not planning on giving up anytime soon. But what he didn’t know was how close he was to solving the case.
“I got to the fifth gated community. I’m on my motorcycle, the gate was closing. I barely squeezed through.” Rod said. “As I was driving through the parking lot, I got about halfway through. [I saw a] car parked there just bashed in. My heart dropped. I called the police [and told them] I think I found the car that hit my wife.”
Police said they found Isa while investigating the car and arrested him for felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter. He was released later on Friday on $75,000 bail and will appear in court on April 22.
CNN could not determine if Isa has a lawyer.
“I am saddened for him,” Rod said. “I’m saddened for his family. I don’t have anger for him or his family.”
The end of a tragedy
While the crazy part of Rod’s story might have been his unexpected discovery, that wasn’t the only miracle.
Isa had the car, which was crushed on the passenger side, with broken glass and a busted sunroof, parked in the driveway, not in his garage. Parts of Richardson bike that had gotten stuck in the car after the crash were found in Isa’s car, Richardson said, recounting what police had shared with him.
“[Isa] had AAA go out there that morning so that he could get the car started. He pulled the car out [of the garage] and he couldn’t get it started again 30 to 45 minutes before I got there,” Rod told CNN. “If that doesn’t tell you how God works.”
With this development and the arrest, now the Richardson family could begin to heal.
“I’m happy that my girls have closure,” Rod said, adding that when he told his daughters that he found the suspect’s vehicle, his oldest just about “fainted.”
“Does it change anything for me? No. It doesn’t stop the pain. It doesn’t stop where I’m at. Waking up every morning or going to bed without her.”
Brenda, a Navy veteran and former softball coach, is remembered by her family for her kind heart, and the love she had for everyone she met. She was known as “Pinky,” both for her love of the color pink and her habit of using her pinky to wave at passing motorcycles. She and her husband were in the middle of launching a nonprofit to get kids into sports when she died, Rod said.
“She was a beautiful soul who made her life mission to make sure everyone she knew were cared for and knew they were loved,” Richardson said in the GoFundMe created to help with funeral arrangements to celebrate his wife’s life.
“She is gone too soon and our lives are forever changed.”
Stella Chan and Paul Murphy contributed to this report.