Hammond mom killed in hit-and-run crash

February 27, 2012 2:51:10 PM PST
Calumet City police are looking for a minivan that fled the scene of a fatal crash on Torrence Avenue near River Oaks Drive Sunday evening.

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.