UPDATED 02/27/12 4:54 p.m.
CALUMET CITY, Ill. (CBS) — Police in Calumet City are searching for a suspect in a hit-and-run crash that left a 42-year-old woman dead and four members of her family injured.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, police say Maria Padilla of Hammond, Ind., was with her family around 6:40 p.m. Sunday, when a minivan rear-ended the car. The force of the crash spun the car around and sent it off of Torrence Avenue, about a mile north of River Oaks Drive.
The car ended up careening into the woods in a Cook County forest preserve, where it hit two trees.
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Padilla was killed, and the other adult and three children in the car were severely hurt. They were treated Monday at St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare Center-North in Hammond.
The hospital said as of Monday morning, Maria Padilla’s husband, Juan Carlos, and their three children – ages 5, 12 and 16 – were treated and released from the hospital by Monday afternoon.
Maria’s friend Laura Vela said, “She was real good; good people. They were good people. My son is friends with her middle son, and she was a sweet person, very sweet person.”
Vela, who lives across the street from the Padilla family, was mourning the loss of her neighbor and friend.
“Every time I see her, we’d wave, and, you know, pleasantries and everything; very nice, she was a very nice person,” Vela told CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley.
Padilla’s sister said Monday morning that she was quite emotional. She described her sister as the best, and said the family needed some time to grieve.
Police say the minivan that hit the Padillas’ car also crashed into another car on Torrence Avenue and kept going. The car was sent spinning from the southbound lanes into the northbound lanes.
“It’s disgusting, it’s disgusting, it’s very sad,” Vela said. “Life can change so quickly, you know, out of nowhere.”
The driver of the second car hit by the minivan was not injured.
Calumet City police are searching for the hit-and-run driver and the minivan. The van is described as tan Ford with front-end damage. Police have asked anyone who might have witnessed the accident to call investigators at 708-868-2500.