PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After Tigard Police confirmed 45-year-old Maria Negrete died Wednesday following a hit-and-run, family and friends are turning to the public for help.
Negrete was a single mother whose five children will now live on without her, but with no arrests, the family says they hope someone will come forward so they can finally gain some closure.
“All we want is justice for Maria,” Lucina Cardoza said. “That’s really what it comes down to.”
Tigard police say they found Negrete in the roadway Monday night. Investigators told KOIN 6 she was riding in the car with her boyfriend on Southwest Hall Boulevard when the couple stopped to get something thrown out the window.
That’s when police say Negrete was hit by another driver, who then took off. And despite being rushed to the hospital, Negrete died just two days later.
“All her kids came before her. She wouldn’t even buy herself clothes or shoes, because she always made sure we were fed instead,” Angel Garcia, her eldest son, said. “And underneath all that suffering she always kept a smile, she’d always joke with us, make us laugh”
Garcia is one of five children – ranging from 10 to 25 years old. He said the loss of his mother is unbearable for all who knew her.
“If she wasn’t there, the house felt empty, despite all of us being there. And once she got there, we were all happy,” Garcia said. “And like, I’ve never told any of my brothers and sisters that, but I know we all felt the same.”
Just two days after her death, friends and family gathered with flowers and candles to mourn her death — honoring her memory with a vigil in the same place she was taken from them.
Described as outgoing, independent and incredibly selfless, Negrete was considered “Superwoman” to Cardoza. Family members say feelings of sadness have now turned to anger at the driver responsible.
Cardoza said she feels “betrayed in some way because you ripped something away from us – from mostly them.” Negrete’s sister, Christina Orozco, agrees, adding that she feels “lost, confused, I guess just numb. I really don’t even know how I’m still functioning.”
But with no arrests Negrete’s family and friends are asking the public to come forward with information so that the person behind the wheel Monday night can be held accountable.
“If you’ve seen the vehicle, know the people that did this, are neighbors or whatever – just report them,” Cardoza said. “I mean, that would be the final closure for us, and the family, and the kids. Just report them.”
To donate to the family’s GoFundMe, click here.
Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.