The family of 3-year-old Samantha Palacios and 42-year-old Jose Palacios is once again pleading with the public for help locating the suspected hit-and-run driver who killed the father and daughter as they slept in their home last year.

“Les pido por favor que nos ayuden a hacer justicia,” said Esnelia Palacios in a video posted by the Long Beach Police Department Friday afternoon. “I ask that you please help us find justice.”

On Friday, April 21, Long Beach and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors renewed a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Octavio Montano Islas, who is suspected of driving drunk and crashing his pickup truck into the Palacios’ studio apartment in North Long Beach on the night of March 1, 2022.

Inside the near-collapsing apartment, Esnelia and her 17-year-old son Salvador watched in horror as the truck pinned Jose and Samantha underneath. Jose died at the scene. Meanwhile, neighbors helped get Samantha out of the rubble, but she died from her injuries at a hospital soon after.

Octavio Montano Islas, 24, was last seen leaving a North Long Beach bar Tuesday, March 1, 2022, before crashing into a studio apartment, killing two people. Photo courtesy of the Long Beach Police Department.

Bleeding from his face after the crash, the driver, who police believe was 25-year-old Montano Islas, fled the scene on foot and has yet to be located and arrested. Authorities said Montano Islas was drinking that night at the nearby Bottoms Up Tavern, which neighbors had been complaining about for years.

“Mi hijo de 17 años y yo fuimos testigos de la muerte de nuestros seres queridos y de como Octavio Montano Islas salió de la camioneta y se fue corriendo, dejándonos un dolor inimaginable,” Esnelia recounts in the video released Friday. “My 17-year-old son and I witnessed the death of our loved ones and how Octavio Montano Islas got out of the truck and ran away, leaving us with an unimaginable pain.”

Salvador Palacios (left) and his mother Esnelia hold up a poster of their family members, Jose and Samantha at a rally in the Hamilton neighborhood on Saturday, March 12.
Salvador Palacios (left) and his mother Esnelia hold up a poster of their family members at a rally in the Hamilton neighborhood on Saturday, March 12. Samantha and Jose Palacios were killed after a pickup truck crashed into their apartment. Photo by Fernando Haro.

“As members of this community, we feel the pain that Esnelia and her family are experiencing and it’s heartbreaking,” Long Beach Police Chief Wally Hebeish said in the video, urging the suspect to surrender.

“To the suspect that took the lives of Jose and Samantha, know this: Our officers will not be dissuaded by the passage of time, we will continue our investigation until we find and arrest you. You will be held accountable for the death of Jose and Samantha and you will be held responsible for the subsequent pain you’ve caused by failing to turn yourself in.”

Montano Islas is described as 5-feet-8-inches tall and weighing 160 pounds, with black hair, brown eyes and unspecified tattoos on his right forearm.

Officials urge anyone with information on Montano Islas’ whereabouts to call detectives at 562-570-7355.

Staff reporter Fernando Haro Garcia contributed to this report.