'My mom did not deserve this': Family pleads for help finding deadly hit-and-run driver

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A deadly driver is on the loose as of Friday evening and a Fresno family is left to wonder whether an 86-year-old woman could've survived if the person who hit her had stopped to help.

"She was not ready to go," said Sonia Linares of her mother. "She was not ready to go."

The crash on Olive Ave. near Fresno St. killed Margarita Linares Thursday night just before 9 p.m.

PREVIOUS STORY: Elderly woman killed in hit-and-run crash, police say

Linares was crossing the street with her walker when a white Ford Expedition hit her and dragged her down the road before driving away and leaving her to die.

Margarita Linares lived to be almost 87 and her family is struggling to believe she's gone after the crash.

"Until I see her, I can't," Sonia Linares said. "I don't want to believe that it's her, you know?"

Neighbors say Linares was a beloved member of their community.

She had ten children, including two daughters who tell Action News their mother was a friend to everyone, especially people experiencing homelessness, whom she frequently invited into her house for food, showers, or a bed.

She was a hard worker who loved her garden, her birds, music, and dancing.

"She was a feisty, strong-headed person," Sonia Linares said. "A lot of energy, but a good person. She was always willing to help anybody."

Her family is planning a memorial now and they say everyone is welcome.

They set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for it.

But her daughters have more urgent thoughts on their minds as well.

They wonder if she could've survived if the driver stopped to help right away.

They suspect the person was intoxicated and they're asking everyone to help police catch the driver of the white Ford Expedition.

"Please help us," daughter Julia Linares said. "Please help us solve this. This cannot stay like that. This cannot stay like that. My mom did not deserve this."

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Police hope new evidence will lead to an arrest in a deadly hit-and-run crash that happened in central Fresno last week.

A few days later, officers shared pictures (in video right above) of the suspect vehicle - a 2006 Ford Expedition.

The surveillance picture was taken at the intersection of Fresno and Belmont Avenues shortly after the crash.

Police say this was the 37th death involving a vehicle in Fresno this year, up from 32 at this point in 2020. The numbers were even lower before the pandemic with 23 in 2019, 28 in 2018, 27 in 2017, and 15 in 2016.
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