As police search for hit-and-run driver, a Brooklyn family mourns

Jose Turanes, talks about his mother, killed while visiting for the holidays from Florida, then embraces Borough President Eric Adams.(Photo by Todd Maisel)

Maria Lorente came to Brooklyn from Florida for a holiday visit with her son — a joyous occasion. But that holiday joy was cut short on Friday by a hit-and-run driver in Canarsie, Brooklyn, leaving her son wondering why anyone would just leave his mother lying on the ground.

“My mother was 70 years old, and she lived a good life, but she still had more years – she was a go getter and happy person,” said her son Jose Tapanes. He was surrounded by police officers, Borough president Eric Adams, Councilman Alan Maisel and State Senator Roxanne Persaud.

Adams and Persaud visited Tapanes and his family on Sunday in their time of mourning.

“We have to remain vigilant that if you see something, say something,” Adams said, referring to the day of the crash that killed the woman on Flatlands Avenue and East 78th Street, about a few hundred feet from where her son lives.

Borough President Eric Adams emerges sullen after talking with the family of the woman killed by a hit-and-run driver on Friday. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“I hope someone will pick up phone and let us know what happened. The family is so traumatized and it is difficult to navigate these challenges,” Adams said. “Any officers would tell you they respond to calls like this – you don’t know how to start. It is important we give family support and help them to navigate the process of losing a loved one in tragic way and an unimaginable pain, just blocks from their house. The thought of a mother visiting for holiday, she only went to the store. Happy New Year will never be happy again.”

Tapanes said he hopes someone comes forward with information on who struck his mother and ran away Friday afternoon. But meanwhile, his family is in pain.

“Losing a family member is really hard. The last few days have been really horrible, seeing the face of our borough president and senator as well is a big comfort,” Tapanes said. “The police officer who told us what happened came here again and remembered my name — he gave me his personal number. That means a lot.”

Tapanes continued, “We just came out of Christmas and this is just a horrible way to begin the New Year, but that’s life, that’s the way life is – God writes our destiny of what will happen.”

An NYPD Sergeant Royall comforts Trapanes in his time of grief. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Lorente was the second hit-and-run pedestrian killed on New York City streets in 2020. Police say they are looking for a black Nissan Maxima, cops said.

Shocking security footage shows the sedan turning onto east onto Flatlands Avenue and hitting the woman as she was crossing the street before, and running her over, and then speeding away.

Before moving to Florida to retire, Lorente worked in the cafeteria of South Shore High School just across the street from where she was killed.

Adams noted that this was the second pedestrian hit-and-run fatality starting this new year.

“Clearly we must re-examine the laws in Albany because people are making calculated decisions on how they will respond,” Adams concluded. 

Police presence was heavy on Flatlands Avenue this afternoon, a billboard asked for the public’s assistance with information on this fatal crash.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) . The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential.

A billboard asks for the public’s help in finding hit-and-run driver in Canarsie. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
Police officers show their support for the family in Canarsie. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Todd Maisel