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Family Seeks Answers After Grandmother Dies Following Little Village Hit-and-Run – NBC Chicago

A Chicago family is expressing anger and heartbreak after a grandmother of 10 died from injuries sustained in a hit-and-run in the Little Village neighborhood, authorities said.

Relatives described the victim, Juana Tapia Lopez, 56, as the rock of her family.

“My mom was literally the light in everybody’s life,” said daughter Monse Soto. “As soon as you met her my mom she made a place in everybody’s heart.”

A major break in the case occurred Friday as Chicago police confirmed a vehicle believed to be connected to the hit-and-run had been recovered.

Investigators told NBC 5 the 2017 Dodge Journey is being processed for evidence and that interviews were being conducted. Investigators have not said where the vehicle was found or who was being questioned.

Following Lopez’s death, her youngest daughter said she doesn’t know how she’s going to live without her mom.

“It’s been really hard for me and my siblings because she was all we had left,” she said.

The beloved mother of five and grandmother of ten died from her injuries Thursday just three weeks after being hit by a car near 26th Street and Drake Avenue.

“My mom deserves her justice,” Soto said. “She wasn’t trash to be thrown on the ground and left there.”

Family said Soto was walking to the bus stop to meet her daughter at work when she was hit. The driver fled the scene. Investigators initially told the family they were looking for the driver of a red or maroon pickup truck, but now Soto said that’s not the case.

“They were saying it wasn’t the car after they had released a picture themselves,” she said. “They ended up saying it was a completely different car.”

The Little Village Community Council vows to get justice for Lopez, who was a member of the organization.

“We will not stop until we get justice for Juana,” said council president Baltazar Enriquez. “We will continue pressuring the police department, continue pressuring until they find the culprit.”

NBC 5 Investigates found of the 37,000 hit and runs that happened in Chicago in 2021—police made arrests in just 0.3% of cases, according to city data. NBC 5 Investigates learned the arrest rate was 8% in Los Angeles.

Soto just hopes that police are one step closer to finding the person who killed her mom.

“I don’t want my mom to be another statistic and I feel bad for everybody else’s families who are also statistics,” she said. “Those people who have been hit or part of these crashes—they’re people too and they deserve to have justice and for police not to be doing anything is honestly just sickening.”

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