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Friends, Family Gather To Remember Mom Killed By Hawthorne Police Cruiser

HAWTHORNE ( —  Friends and family of a woman killed when she was hit by a police cruiser in Hawthorne remembered her Saturday as a devoted mother of three.

Karina Preza, 34, died Friday -- two days after she was struck.

She was on her way to pick up her husband from work about 2 a.m. She was just pulling out from the alley of her apartment building in the 3700 block of El Segundo Boulevard near Doty Avenue when she was struck. The impact of the collision caused her to be ejected from her vehicle.

KCAL9's Bobby Kaple said several candles were laid in front of Preza's home in the shape of a cross.

She leaves behind Carlos , her husband of 15 years, and three sons ages 13, 5 and 1.

"She was the best mom. She would always be there when someone needed her. She would know when something was wrong, she would help you with those problems," said son Carlos Cerna, Jr.

Kaple also spoke to the late woman's husband who spoke through a cousin, Armando Piril, who translated.

"She was the mother of the house, she was the one that took care of everything," he said.

The translator added, "She was always around. She was always helping and like he said, she was beautiful."

Kaple reported several questions remain unanswered in the crash. How fast was the officer going? Was he using his lights and siren at the time of the crash?

Family members said they heard no sirens but investigators have not yet commented.

Piril was not there at the time of the crash, but he quotes several people who claimed to have heard the accident. "It was like a bomb. There were no sirens, no brakes. Just like something exploded," says Piril.

Tonight's vigil was the family's first step on a long road of healing said cousin Piril.

"We want this case to be taken care of because they lost someone really important in their lives," he said.

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