There was an empty seat at Ruth Santos’ table on Thanksgiving. Her daughter, Yvette Diaz, died in a hit-and-run accident early on Sunday, November 15. On Wednesday, November 25, Santos and her younger daughters gathered on the Grand Concourse and begged Diaz’ killer to turn him or herself in. The family won’t stop until he or she does, Santos promised.
“Tomorrow is Thanksgiving,” Santos, 51, said. “[Diaz’ killer] will eat turkey with his family. My daughter won’t.”
Diaz, 28, was hit in a crosswalk at E. 165th Street on the Grand Concourse and dragged past the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Her killer had been headed east on E. 165th Street and turned uptown onto the Grand Concourse. He or she sped away from the accident through a red light at E. 166th Street but waited at E. 167th Street, where a camera is set to snap photos of law-breakers, Diaz’ sister Elizabeth Fernandez, 25, alleged. Only someone from the neighborhood would have stopped at E. 167th Street, Fernandez surmised. An investigation is ongoing, police said.
“He has to be from the neighborhood because he knew,” she said. “He waited for the light.”
Fernandez and another sister, Ruthy Fernandez, were with Diaz minutes before the tragedy. Diaz treated the young women to a day in Manhattan on Saturday, November 14. They ate out and shopped to celebrate Ruthy’s 20th birthday; Diaz drove her sisters back to the Bronx in a rental car. They talked and joked until the early morning; there was no party, Elizabeth said.
Diaz drove her sisters home and returned the car, picked up a bag of White Castle burgers at around 5 a.m. and set out on foot, family said. A witness told reporters that Diaz carefully waited her turn at E. 165th Street. The witness reportedly glimpsed the hit-and-run vehicle but not its license plate. Diaz’ sisters asked that a description of the vehicle be withheld. They don’t want its driver to take fright and bolt, Elizabeth said.
“He drove away,” Santos wept. “He left her to die like a piece of trash.”
Santos and her daughters want to know why no cameras captured the hit-and-run on tape. The family has asked Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to look into cameras for the thoroughfare. There are often hit-and-runs on the Grand Concourse, Santos said.
The borough president’s office has sent a letter with the family’s request to the city Department of Transportation.
Friends helped the family bury Diaz “like a princess” at St. Raymond’s Cemetery on Saturday, November 21, Santos said.
“My sister is at peace,” Elizabeth said.
Reach reporter Daniel Beekman at 718 742-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org