MILWAUKEE -- A mother on her way home from church lost her life after a hit-and-run crash on Sunday, Feb. 4 around 11 a.m. near 15th and Lincoln on Milwaukee's south side. Surveillance cameras captured the moments just before the impact -- and the striking driver is at large. Police say four people were seen fleeing the scene after the crash, not bothering to stop to check on the mother and her son, 13 -- still in their vehicle.
"I still can't believe she's gone," Nancy Andrade, the victim's niece said. "I go back to how I found her in the accident."
Surveillance cameras on a nearby restaurant captured the violent collision. According to police, a Ram pickup truck was headed eastbound on W. Lincoln Ave. at a high rate of speed. The driver lost control and collided with a westbound Toyota Corolla, before striking three other vehicles.
"We heard a big 'boom' -- an Earth-shaking 'boom,' like an earthquake, a building collapsing sound," Loai Atali said.
Atali, who owns a nearby convenience store, ran out to help.
"It was a horrible scene," Atali said.
After the crash, the occupants of the Ram fled the scene on foot. Witnesses gathered around the victims' vehicle.
"They tried to help the mom and she was screaming 'where's my son? Is he OK?'" Nattalie Lopez said.
Lopez tended to the child.
"He was very sad. I noticed his hand was bleeding. I could only imagine the pain he was going through right now. I didn't want him to see his mom like that. Her leg was broken," Lopez said.
"She loved her son so much. She would do anything for him," Andrade said.
The good Samaritans realized the woman was too injured to be moved.
"The look in her eyes was hopeless. Her face is severely injured. She is trying to ask for help. The look on people's face -- they are helpless and you cant hep them. It haunts you," Atali said.
The driver of the Corolla, Monica Hernandez, 43, suffered serious injuries and later died at a hospital. Her young son was taken to the hospital for for treatment of injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
"For them to not care and run away, you have no heart," Valeria Estrada, GM of La Canoa, who shared the surveillance video said. "I just wanted the community to help."
One of the passengers of the Ram, woman, 23, turned herself in late Sunday night.
MPD is seeking a known male driver in the incident. The good Samaritans said they hope viewers might recognize the individuals who fled the truck after the crash, never once turning back to help.
"You were being reckless. It's not fair. That lady deserves justice," Lopez said. "This kid lost his mother because of you. I hope you turn yourself in."
A GoFundMe.com account has been established to help with funeral expenses for Monica Hernandez.
"You can't, you know...we did not expect this," Andrade said. "Hopefully they have some remorse and come back and show their face for what they did. I'm grateful for those people who were there."
Alderman Jose Perez issued the following statement on this tragedy:
"First and foremost, my prayers and regrets to the family of the victim. I know that our churches and our community will rally around this boy who has lost his mother. I want to say clearly that I will work night and day with the police to bring this reckless driver to justice.
If you know anything, please contact the police immediately. Our community will come together around this tragedy but this type of nonsense will not be tolerated."