Grandmother, Lyft driver killed in San Francisco hit-and-run, police looking for Mercedes driver

A Lyft driver and his passenger were killed in a hit-and-run car crash in San Francisco early Sunday morning, hit by a Mercedes driver who police say was speeding and ran a right light before fleeing the scene.

The victim’s family identified the passenger who died as 49-year-old grandmother, Sela Ruth Araujo de Henriquez, who was coming home from a babysitting job.

The Lyft driver was identified by the city's medical examiner's office as Syed Waseem Ali, 26, of Fremont. 

The crash happened just after 1 a.m. on Third Street and Paul Avenue in San Francisco’s Bayview District. Police Sgt. Michael Andraychak said it appeared as though a silver Mercedes was speeding and failed to stop for the red traffic signal. It crashed into a gray Toyota Corolla sedan. The driver of the Mercedes fled and two passengers had non-life threatening injuries, police said.

Henriquez had a large family including three sons, two grandchildren and another grandchild on the way. Loved ones describe her as an active churchgoer, friendly and positive. She died less than a mile from her home.

“She was a very nice good Christian,” said Jesus Henriquez, her son.

Family members and friends gathered at her home in a mobile home park in San Francisco, reeling from tragedy hours before.

“This is something that is going to change my life forever,” said Jesus Henriquez.

Henriquez said his mother was babysitting for a family friend. His father was supposed to pick her up but instead she took a Lyft.

“My dad, he fell asleep,” said Jesus Henriquez. “He woke up around 2:30 a.m. and he went to her work to find her because she always comes back home.”

Jesus Henriquez saw Paul Avenue blocked off. Police informed him a crash involving multiple cars had claimed the lives of two people. The family identified Jesus Henriquez’s mother as one of the deceased.

“They showed us a picture,” said Henriquez. “They gave us her bag and that's it.”

The dark colored Toyota Corolla that Sela Henriquez was in was badly mangled with the airbags deployed. 

“Someone was speeding and they crashed the car from Lyft and they said the Lyft driver died immediately and my mom after a few minutes died too,” said Henriquez.

Henriquez was a member of Iglesia Maranatha for seven years. The church is located at the corner where the crash occurred. Members said the church has seen its share of accidents.

“A car crashed in the front over there, in the front of the church that was a few months ago,” said Church Member Douglas Sanchez.

Sela Henriquez’s son had a message to the driver if speeding was a factor.

“When people drive they should always care about others too,” said Jesus Henriquez. “They don't care about anybody else they should because those people have families.”

Lyft sent a statement that reads, “We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident and resulting loss of life. Our thoughts are with the victims' family and friends during this difficult time."

The company said it has reached out to the rider's family to offer support. 

The SFPD Traffic Collision Investigation Unit (TCIU) is investigating. Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD 24 Hour Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. 

A Gofundme for Araujo's family has been set up to help with funeral costs.