Maria Padilla, 42, of Hammond, Ind., was killed when the car she was traveling in with her family was struck from behind by the minivan around 6:30 p.m. The impact sent their vehicle into the trees of a nearby forest preserve. Her husband, 36-year-old Juan Carlos Padilla, and her three children -- ages 5, 14 and 17 -- were injured. The children were treated and released from Saint Margaret Mercy Hospital.
The driver of the minivan struck a second car and fled the scene.
"We need to bring closure to this case for this family, [people who] traveled up and down that roadway every day," Calumet City Police Chief Edward Gilmore said.
Officials are looking for a beige or brown minivan with damage to its front end.
Neighbors say Maria Padilla was a good mother who was always protective of her children.
"That is just horrible, to leave her children without a mom. Any family, that would be horrible to not have their mom. One of her son's is in high school, and one is in middle school -- that's the one my son knows -- and one is in elementary. You know, boys need a lot of mothering. They need a lot of their family. That's terrible," said neighbor Laura Bela.