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Family Wants Answers After Hit-And-Run Kills Patriarch, 86, In Little Village

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The coronavirus pandemic has made this Thanksgiving unparalleled – for so many us, the day came with the grief of being separated from our loved-ones.

That is a pain felt most intensely by seven children who lost their family patriarch this week. He was killed in a hit-and-run in Little Village.

As CBS 2's Marie Saavedra reported Thursday evening, Eliseo Mendoza, 86, was struck and killed on Sawyer Avenue just off busy 26th Street. The odds are that there were witnesses to what happened Tuesday morning, and for the family it's just a matter of finding them.

"On Tuesday morning, I called my mom around 11," said Leticia Torres.

Mendoza, Torres' father, had gone to the store Tuesday morning for his wife.

"He always worried there was enough milk, juice, and fruits for her," Torres said. "I said, 'When he comes back, tell them I say hello.' She said, 'I will.'"

Two hours later, Torres learned her father didn't return to her mother - and would never see the faces of his seven daughters again. While walking back, just off 26th Street in Little Village, a driver hit him on Sawyer Avenue and sped off in a gray GMC sport-utility vehicle.

"As a citizen, as a human being, I would stop," Torres said.

Mendoza later died at the hospital. His 86 years were full ones – he was born in Mexico, but was a naturalized citizen who proudly voted earlier this month.

And he was giving to his girls, especially on this holiday.

"Daddy was the type that he would wherever he would go he would get extra change and put it in his piggy bank," Torres said, "and it was on this day he would break that piggy bank and tell mom here is the money for the turkey."

Instead, there is an empty chair and a deep ache for answers. The family is searching for surveillance video and any bit of information on who may have been behind the wheel, who left this father in the street, in his final moments.

"Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe in 10 years," Torres said, "but I will live to find out."

Chicago Police Area Four detectives are investigating. The family and community activists are offering a $2,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest.

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