76-year-old hit-and-run victim's family asks community for help identifying suspect
UPDATE: A North Miami-Dade man was arrested on Wednesday. According to the arrest report, Ricardo Gonzalez surrendered to police at the Caribe Cafe Restaurant, admitting to running down Hilda Garcia as she crossed the street and then tried to cover up the crime.
Hilda Garcia's 18-year-old Chihuahua still sits at the door, waiting for her to come home.
Garcia was a fixture in her Miami neighborhood for 30 years. She would go to the grocery store and visit friends — the "gaggle of grannies," her nephew joked. She could be found dancing at family get-togethers, even trying to teach her great-nephew how to dance in the rain.
She used a walker, but it disappeared from sight whenever the music came on. She was the primary caregiver to her son Alberto, who has health issues and lived with her.
The 76-year-old put family first. And now her family is asking for help.
Garcia was struck and killed on Sunday night by a hit-and-run driver.
She was getting groceries, and was in the crosswalk on Northwest 37th Avenue at Ninth Street a few blocks from her home when she was hit at 10:15 p.m., Miami police say.
"There was no regard for human life," lead detective Wendy Chadwell said Wednesday at a news conference at the Miami police headquarters. "This is the worst one I’ve worked. They treated her worse than an animal. It was horrific and senseless. It shouldn’t have happened."
Police were left a few clues on the street: parts of the car that hit her.
Miami police detectives say the vehicle involved was heading north and may be a 2005-2009 black or dark gray Pontiac, possibly a two- or four-door G6.
Chadwell said the front right section of the car's grill is missing, the front bumper is damaged, and there may be windshield, roof and trunk damage.
Police say a witness who was traveling south turned around — but the car that struck Garcia was gone.
Garcia's relatives gathered at the Miami Police Department Wednesday to ask anyone who saw anything to help — and the driver to come forward.
"I want to look whoever did this in the face and ask why," Garcia's sister Mireya Bolaños said in Spanish. "We won't stop until they are caught."
Garcia's son Alberto, the first in the family to learn what happened to his mother, said the driver is a "monster."
"Alberto thought she was taking a little long so he hopped on his bike to go meet her," nephew Tony Bolaños said.
"I saw the police; they had her covered," Alberto said. "I saw her walker, one shoe here, one shoe there."
Garcia, who would have turned 77 Friday, was well-known in the community.
"We can't go 10 steps in the neighborhood without a neighbor offering their condolences or someone hugging Alberto," another nephew, Joey Rodriguez, said.
The family is devastated that the driver didn't stop. Garcia's sister is inconsolable and feels like she needs to leave the neighborhood she shared with her sister.
"My paramedic friend said in 15 years of doing this they don't remember seeing anything like this," Tony Bolaños said. "If it was an accident, there would be understanding. But we're angry because it's a crime. They showed no remorse."
Rodriguez added that there were no skid marks on the scene, and that the car was going highway speeds in a residential neighborhood. Gesturing to a picture of Garcia, he pointed toward her legs and said they were severed on impact.
Both nephews echoed each other: "Please come forward. ... Accept responsibility."
Anyone who knows anything about this incident or the car involved should call Miami police at 305-603-6525; Miami Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477); text Crime Stoppers at 274637 with "CSMD" and the tip; or go to the Crime Stoppers website.