It wasn’t money that motivated 71-year-old Virginia Montalvo — it was boredom and the thought of just siting around the house. Every morning and every night according to friends, family and people around the neighborhood, she would make the rounds through her neighborhood collecting recyclable bottles and cans.
Monday evening at about 10:30 p.m., on a rain slicked Jamaica Avenue and 98th street, Virginia Montalvo crossed the intersection with the usual oversize bundle of collected recyclables in tow. Witness say the driver of a dark cargo van, sped up to make the light striking the woman in the intersection.
Virginia was a native Peruvian arriving here in the United States about six years ago. She shared a house with her husband Mamerto and family about two blocks from the accident scene. The victim was a mother of seven children and ten grandchildren “She didn’t have to do this. She just enjoyed being out,” said Denise Rodriguez who often spoke with Virginia along the avenue.
By Tuesday evening the only evidence of the hit and run was a large electronic NYPD sign informing passersby of the fatal hit and run and asking for anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-577- TIPS.
Outside Peruvian restaurant, El Anzuelo Fino at the corner of 98th Street and Jamaica Avenue, an employee of the restaurant carried three large glass candles to the corner and placed them down on the ground. “I light them for her,” Mariella said. “I saw her everyday at the side of the restaurant. I used to give her all the cans and the bottles.” As she crouched to her knees to light the memorial candles she looked up just shaking her head. “It was so terrible.” Pointing to a short distance off the curb she said, “Her shoes they were there. All the bottles and cans wee all over the street. And she was over there.”
After being struck by the van Virginia was rushed to Jamaica Hospital where she died. Neighbors were shocked and saddened over the tragedy; some were there to witness it. It’s such a shame,” said Juan Martinez. “She was a sweet lady. How could someone just drive off.” Another neighbor on the scene was outraged. “Whoever was driving that van knew they hit somebody. To just drive off like that is unforgivable. I hope the police get the driver very fast.”
Virginia’s son-in-law- Estaban Cobos spoke to reporters through an interpreter. “We all warned her not to go out there alone into the neighborhood, especially at night.” But Virginia Montalvo did not heed the advice of loved ones. Now the family hopes that the driver will come forward.
After detectives interviewed several people that witnessed the accident, they believe the van could have been speeding, and were still trying to gather proof of that theory. Although there was video surveillance from nearby stores, the impact was not visible. Police continue to search for a dark blue or gray cargo style van, but they had not found any videotape from a nearby store showing the impact. The vehicle, possibly a dark blue or gray cargo van, had not been located as of Wednesday afternoon.