Nearly one year after her daughter was killed in a hit-and-run on Grand Concourse, Ruth Santos is taking it upon herself to actively seek out the guilty driver.
“The person who did this is still out there,” says Santos.
Her daughter, Yvette Diaz, was crossing the street at the intersection of East 165th Street and the Concourse at nearly 5 a.m. on November 15, 2009, when a driver ran a red light and left her in the street.
That evening, Yvette, 28, and her little sister Ruth Fernandes, 20 at the time, were out celebrating the birthday of one of Ruth’s friends.
They returned to the house at 1:30 a.m. but decided to go back out to a second party. Yvette rented a Zipcar; she was a member of the service, which has some vehicles available on the Concourse at any time.
She drove her sister to the party and by 4:30 a.m. they were back in the neighborhood safely, parking the auto. At 4:52 a.m., Yvette was struck by a motorist.
Santos, who still lives at the apartment located mere steps from where Yvette died, said that there were other family members living with her at the time of the accident. However, since then, everyone moved out because the pain is too much for them. “Every time we look out the window or walk out the building, we see this little shrine we made, and it’s very difficult,” she explained.
Santos has begun making hundreds of copies of the same police poster that has existed since the time of the accident, and she is posting them all over the borough as well as going door-to-door with the flyers.
She also sent letters to community leaders looking for help, including the borough president’s office, but has not heard back. She wants them to know about hit-and-run drivers, a phenomenon she says can seem, at times, common in the Bronx. She knows of other parents who have lost children in similar circumstances, in the same area.
The police poster advertises a REWARD and reads: “Crime Stoppers will pay up to $2,000 in cash for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person(s) responsible for the following crime” before describing when and where Yvette Diaz was killed.
Santos said, “I want to get the word out there because if we don’t, whoever did this will think we have forgotten about my daughter’s death. But I don’t want that. Our pain is still so powerful.”