Officials have identified the 18-year-old woman who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on Highway 135 near Waller Park on Sunday night.

According to California Highway Patrol officers, at about 6:30 p.m., Jennifer Benitez-Ayala was walking across Highway 135 when she was struck by a vehicle that was traveling southbound.

Benitez-Ayala was living in the Santa Maria area, according to Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office. 

The traffic heading southbound had a green light when Benitez-Ayala attempted to cross the highway using the crosswalk. When she reached the middle of the right lane, she was hit by an oncoming vehicle. After the collision, the vehicle did not stop but continued traveling, according to officials.

Officials said they believed the suspect hit-and-run driver would have sustained serious damage to the vehicle as a result of the collision.

Just before 8 p.m. Sunday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office issued an Aware and Prepare Alert, asking the public to be on the lookout for a light-colored, four-door sedan. CHP Officer Rob Wallace said the vehicle may have been a Ford Explorer, and that officials were continuing to follow up on some leads. 

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As of Tuesday, CHP officials confirmed they had impounded vehicles for inspection in connection to the case and are continuing their investigation. 

No arrests have been made. 

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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