Suspect in deadly Visalia hit-and-run released from custody as family mourns

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022
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The family of a hit-and-run victim in Visalia is pledging to keep her memory alive while the woman accused of killing her was released from custody Monday.

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Yolanda Ruiz's children are grieving together after losing their mother last week.

"She's not alone -- we love her and just to pay our respects," says Isabel Hernandez.

" I loved her all the way and I knew she'd want me to be strong, so I just have to keep myself together," says Gabriel Ruiz.

The 63-year-old was crossing this intersection on Mooney Blvd and Tulare Avenue Wednesday night when she was hit by a car.

The alleged driver, Adreanna Watters, later turned herself in, but not before leaving the scene.

RELATED: 63-year-old killed in hit-and-run crash in Visalia remembered as loving grandmother

"She didn't stop at the moment and that is what breaks my heart," Gabriel said. "No matter if you have an accident or are guilty, you stop and pay your respects for what you did."

Monday morning, Watters faced a judge for the first time and pleaded not guilty to felony hit and run resulting in death.

The judge allowed her to be released on her own recognizance with supervision, meaning she's required to check in with the probation department.

Ruiz's daughter says while she forgives Watters, she doesn't feel it's fair for her to be out of jail at this point.

"She took someone dearly, a loved one, away from her family," Isabel said.

Ruiz's children say police told them Watters was speeding at the time of the crash.

Pictures shared with us by Visalia Watchdog show the vehicle believed to be involved in the hit-and-run. It was found on the ground floor of the Visalia Mall parking garage.

Ruiz's family hopes this memorial serves as a tribute to their mother and a message to those walking or driving.

"Just be careful -- even though you are walking, look and pay attention," Isabel said. "Even if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, other people are not and your life can be taken away just like that."

Watters' next hearing is Thursday morning. Prosecutors say she could face up to four years in prison if convicted.

Ruiz's family members are now preparing for her funeral. A GoFundMe has been set up to help with expenses.

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