Lola dies in hit-and-run in San Jose

by Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

September 4, 2013

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Friends and family members that died in a hit-and-run crash in San Jose, California early Monday morning, gathered last night where the tragedy happened and prayed for their souls.

One of the women who died was Filipina, a 62-year old from Cebu named Cristina de Leon. De Leon was a mother of five and a grandmother of eight.

“She was the best mother and the best grandmother anyone could have. I will her so much,” said Arlene Ilan, de Leon’s daughter.

De Leon was on her way to work at Mineta San Jose International Airport with her co-worker, 62-year old Carmen Zavala just past 3 a.m. on Labor Day Monday. Police said Zavala was driving a Toyota Yaris, while De Leon was sitting on the passenger seat. Zavala was turning left onto North First Street, just blocks away from their destination, when a silver Mercedes sedan hit the front of the car.

Just moments before the crash, the California Highway Patrol tried to pull over the driver of the silver Mercedes sedan, for suspected drunk driving. But authorities said they ended up not pursuing him when he sped away on city streets, for safety reasons.

De Leon, a bakery employee, died at the scene while Zavala died at a hospital.

“I wish things could have happened differently. But I’m starting to accept what happened. It’s in God’s hands now,” said Ramon de Leon Cabalona, de Leon’s son.

“It’s possible for us to forgive that driver. We’re only human, after all. But he has to turn himself in and be held accountable for this,” added Ilan.

Authorities are still searching for the driver of the silver Mercedes sedan, who fled the scene on foot.

“The community should open their eyes and ears because the suspect in this hit-and-run case is still at-large,” said George Gange, a Filipino community leader in San Jose.

“There are surveillance videos all over the area. The police should look into that, as well as registered owner of the car,” added Jeff Padua, de Leon’s friend and co-worker.

Her friends and family said it’s hard to forget a women like de Leon. But they plan to keep her memory alive, not only by celebrating the life that she lived but by continuing to fight for justice in the life that she lost.

For more information, you may contact Henni Espinosa at

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