Elderly Santa Rosa woman killed by driver, not found until the next day

An elderly Santa Rosa woman was hit by a car and killed while walking to the bus stop at Seminary and Outlook Avenues in Oakland. Police did not find her until the next day.

Family said 72-year-old Mara Li Delaney, known as Mali to her friends, was in Oakland visiting her friend Emily Odza but left to meet another friend, Shirley, at the airport. 

Delaney was hit just 50 yards from the bus stop on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 26, carrying large purple luggage, on her way to catch Bus #45, when she was hit and flung to the side of the road. 

When she didn’t arrive at the airport, Shirley called Coco Delaney, Mali’s daughter.

"That’s when she told me she was missing," Coco said.

"So many people are going to miss her," said Emily Odza, the last friend to see her alive. "This was a long-planned trip with her childhood friend Shirley, to spend four days in San Francisco."

Mali’s family and friends confirm she was last seen leaving Odza’s house at 7:26 in the morning on Tuesday. She texted her friend Shirley at 7:39, attempting to catch the 7:46 bus.

"I looked up, I looked down," said Odza who had started her own search. "I didn’t see any debris or suitcases or anything."

The next day, police found her on the side of the road, dead, just after 1 p.m., confirming the driver had left the scene.

"We found out that some maintenance workers from Mills [College] campus had seen her from the other side of the fence," said Odza, who told KTVU the maintenance worker reported the finding to Oakland police.

"It seems like it takes fatalities to hurry things up," said Odza.

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Coco said the police investigator in the case does not believe the accident is criminal in nature. She said it could have been an accident because police think the driver might have stopped to look for Mali but could not find her. 

"The person has been located and questioned by the police and the detective will be wrapping up his case today and sending it to the DA’s office," said Coco.

While Coco said she’s gotten some answers in the investigation, she feels for the families who’ve lost a loved one in a hit-and-run crash. She said she hopes this does not happen to anyone else.

"If this truly was an accident, I want to have compassion for that person as well," said Coco, deciding not to sue the driver.

At this time, Oakland police did not confirm the criminal nature of the case or whether any charges were filed.

Traffic records indicate nearly 60 people were hit along this dangerous stretch on Seminary Avenue. An $8.8 million project is in place to repave Seminary Avenue from Foothill to Sunnymere, including pedestrian and biking improvements.

"It’s just really odd that you would have a series of bus stops on a main drag like that on seminary and not have any place to walk from bus stop to bus stop," said Odza. "The Department of Transportation is doing a survey of all the residents here to ask them what do we want."

Construction on the repaving won’t begin until 2025.