San Diego

Police Seek Suspect in Deadly Hit-and-Run of San Diego's ‘Tamale Lady'

Maria Estrada, 52 – affectionately known as the “Tamale Lady” in San Diego’s Barrio Logan community – was walking near Cesar Chavez Parkway on Nov. 15 when she was hit by a driver in a Ford F-150 who then fled the scene

One week after a beloved Southcrest resident known as the “Tamale Lady” was killed in a hit-and-run, police released a photo of the suspect’s truck hoping for fresh information that could lead to an arrest.

San Diego resident Maria Estrada, 52 – known as the “Tamale Lady” who sold tamales and traditional Mexican home-cooking at parks across the city – was walking westbound on the north sidewalk along the 700 block of Cesar Chavez Parkway on Nov. 15.

It was 11 a.m. and she was heading to a doctor’s appointment.

As Estrada got to the crosswalk at Cesar Chavez Parkway and Kearney Avenue, a driver in a white Ford F-150 was stopped, facing westbound, at a red light at the intersection.

As Estrada went to cross the street, the driver in the Ford F-150 made a right turn on Kearny Avenue and hit Estrada. The San Diego Police Department said Estrada fell to the ground; the driver took off, leaving her badly hurt on the street.

The driver didn’t even call 911, police said.

By the time medics got to the intersection, Estrada was unconscious.

She was taken to UC San Diego Medical Center. There, according to a report from the San Diego County Medical Examiner, Estrada was intubated and diagnosed with subdural hematoma. Her prognosis was not good, the ME report said, and her condition worsened.

Two days later, Estrada died.

On Thursday, the SDPD released a grainy image off the hit-and-run suspect’s white truck. Police said the driver was last seen heading northbound on Kearney Avenue the day of the collision. The truck is described as a 1997 to 2004 model with stock wheels, a tinted back window a white California sticker.

Anyone with information on the truck or the deadly hit-and-run can reach out to the SDPD’s Traffic Division at (858) 495-7800 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

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In the meantime, Estrada’s friends, family and community continue to mourn.

On Wednesday night, her loved ones gathered outside Estrada’s apartment in Southcrest to honor her memory in the best possible way: by sharing a nice, warm meal – including the last batch of her famous tamales.

Longtime friend Anna Alvarado spoke with NBC 7 about Estrada’s life, and how she always seemed to be smiling. Alvarado said Estrada worked hard selling her tamales to provide for her kids and family.

At the gathering, Estrada’s daughter, Brianda Ramos, clutched a photo of her family. She was overwhelmed by how many people showed up to pay tribute to her mom and support her grieving family.

Ramos told NBC 7 she was happy to see her mom’s spirit of feeding the community living on, especially seeing people enjoy the last of the tamales made by her own two hands.

Ramos said that now, the focus is on finding the hit-and-run driver.

“To the person who did this, turn himself in,” Ramos said. “You took away someone – my mom – a grandma, a friend, a really loving person who was helpful for the community.”

Estrada’s family has created an online fundraising page to help cover funeral expenses for the beloved Tamale Lady. As of Friday, the GoFundMe page had raised nearly $3,500.

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