CHICAGO — It’s a Thanksgiving that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons by the family of 86-year-old Elisio Mendoza, who was killed in a hit-and-run while on his way to buy some fruit near 26th Street and Sawyer Avenue on Tuesday.
“He will truly be missed because he was always an example to us,” Mendoza’s daughter Letitia Torres said.
Mendoza started life in Mexico, but America has been home for the past 50 years. Letitia said he was a busy family man, who wasn’t the party type and was ever the protector.
“His duty on Earth as he thought it was was to take care of my mother and seven daughters,” Torres said. “Always dedicated to work and supply for our family and our mother.”
She said he was always making sure the fridge was properly stocked for his wife, and neighbors recognized him from years of walking to the store.
His trip to buy some fruit on Tuesday was his last. While he was on his way to the store, Elisio Mendoza was hit by what police describe as a gray GMC SUV which then fled the scene.
“I called my mom around 11 and we spoke for about an hour, I said, ‘how is dad doing’ and she said, ‘he is good,’“ Torres said. “Maybe two hours and a half later, I received a call that he never made it home.”
Now the family is speaking out about their loss and hoping a reward for information will help catch the culprit.
“It is very painful, very painful because the least I could expect if I were to hit anyone I would stop; as a resident, as a citizen, as a human being I would stop,” Torres said.
A $2,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case, as the family is pleading for anyone with information to come forward.
“I know nothing will bring daddy home but your answer will serve us for peace,” Torres said. “Daddy will be laid here in Chicago where he became a U.S. citizen.”
Now on a day which would normally be a happy one, there’s an empty chair at the table and a family left in pain, hoping someone will speak up.
“His chair is there. His stuffing is being made right now,” Torres said.
That empty chair at the table means life will never be the same for the family but they’re hopeful someone will come forward, so justice can be served.
Anyone with information should contact police or submit a tip anonymously at cpdtip.com.