Arrest warrant issued for man suspected of crashing into apartment, killing 3-year-old and her father

Authorities are asking for the public’s help in finding the driver of a pickup truck that crashed into an apartment building after leaving a North Long Beach bar, killing a father and his 3-year-old daughter.

The crash occurred around 10 p.m. Tuesday, March 1 when a man left Bottoms Up Tavern in the 6600 block of Rose Avenue after having a couple of drinks. Security footage from the bar showed the driver getting in his truck and making a flailing left from Artesia Boulevard before crashing into the family’s studio apartment. The victims in the crash have been identified as 42-year-old Jose Palacios and his 3-year-old daughter Samantha, police said.

In a press release Wednesday, Long Beach police said they have identified 24-year-old Long Beach resident Octavio Montano Islas as the driver, who fled the scene on foot after the crash. Police described Islas as a Hispanic man with black hair. He has tattoos on his right forearm and stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds, police said.

On Monday, detectives presented the case to the District Attorney’s Office, who issued a warrant for Islas’ arrest on two counts of felony manslaughter, one count of felony driving under the influence, and one count of felony hit and run, according to the LBPD.

“As a father, I can’t imagine the heartache of losing a partner and a child,” LBPD Chief of Police Wally Hebeish said in a video posted on Twitter Wednesday night. “As your police chief, I can tell you that this crime will not go unanswered and it cannot go unpunished.”

Since the night of the crash, Long Beach community members have called for Bottoms Up Tavern to be held responsible in some way. Last week, councilman and Long Beach mayoral candidate Rex Richardson said Bottoms Up has a history of problems, and he asked local and state agencies to scrutinize the bar.

Meanwhile, other residents will host a call to action Saturday afternoon against the bar to “honor those that have passed in hopes that we may prevent future deaths.” And days after the crash, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which regulates liquor sales in the state, also launched an investigation into Bottoms Up Tavern to find out what happened there before the crash.

Suzanne Blevins, the owner of Bottoms Up Tavern, said she is working with the LBPD and the ABC. “The only thing I care about right now is that family,” she said.

A GoFundMe page was also created to cover the costs of Jose and Samantha Palacios’ funerals. The page has raised $35,790 of the $50,000 goal as of Wednesday night.

Jessica Pino Garcia, the organizer for the GoFundMe page and a family member of Jose and Samantha, posted photos of the two smiling, each of them with food in their hands.

“On the night of March 1st, we lost two significant people,” the caption by Pino Garcia reads. “One man made the decision to get in their car while intoxicated and take the lives of two of our loving family members.”

ABC is investigating Long Beach bar after crash that killed a father and daughter

3-year-old girl and her father killed when truck crashes into their apartment

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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