They chased dozens and dozens of leads and spent months looking for the culprit, and even put up a $25,000 reward for information.
They conducted surveillance on possible suspects and alerted federal agencies along the border crossing with the U.S. and Mexico to be on the lookout.
Still, more than two years later, La Habra Police Department Traffic Unit investigators have yet to find the driver who struck and killed Linda May Lopez, a 60-year-old resident of La Habra. The suspect never stopped and after hitting her.
The Nov. 13, 2015 hit-and-run continues to bother Sgt. Jim Tigner, who has run the La Habra Police Department’s Traffic Unit since 2011.
“This case is the one that haunts me — our investigators want to help bring justice to Linda’s family,” said Tigner, adding that fatal hit-and-runs in the city aren’t that common, and ones in which the suspect remains unidentified for so long aren’t either.
He wants Linda’s family to know that the La Habra Police Department hasn’t forgotten her and that investigators hope someone will come forward with information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
“In all likelihood,” Tigner said, “if the driver had just remained at the scene, he or she likely would not have faced charges.”
Lopez was struck at about 8:14 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2015 while she was crossing the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and Citrus Avenue. She apparently was following her husband, who went on regular walks to nearby La Habra High School.
He was about 100 yards ahead of her and wasn’t even aware she had been following him when she was struck. He heard but did not witness the accident. She was transported to a hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries.
The La Habra Police Department’s investigation revealed it wasn’t her habit to leave her house to follow her husband when he went on his nighttime walks, Tigner said.
She crossed the T-shaped intersection diagonally. It has no marked crosswalks or a traffic signal.
“It’s legal for pedestrians to cross there if they do so safely within an unmarked crosswalk and with due regard for traffic on the roadway,” Tigner said.
Investigators recovered “pieces of good evidence” at the scene, Tigner said. The damaged car is believed to have been a light-colored Toyota SUV.
The police department posted flyers at automotive repair shops with a picture of where damage may have occurred when the SUV struck and killed Lopez, but so far nothing has turned up. They reviewed surveillance video footage from businesses in the area and combed through DMV records. But none of the investigative efforts thus far have produced a viable lead.
The police department hopes that recurring publicity about the unsolved hit-and-run may generate fresh leads.
“We know someone has information – either they did it, or they know who did it,” Tigner said. “The Lopez family deserves having you come forward and in doing so, you can clear your conscience and be accountable for your actions. Do what’s right.”
Click here to read a previous story about the $25,000 reward, which remains in effect.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call 562-383-4300. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call 562-383-4358.