'I can't get closure' Family in elderly woman's death says they don't have justice

Family members of an elderly woman killed in a hit-and-run in Oakland late last year said they have not received information from investigators in several months. Now, they’re worried the case was tossed aside as they wait for justice.

At the same time, neighbors along Seminary Avenue where it happened want changes to be made to the corridor to avoid more deaths.

72-year-old Mara Li Delaney, known to her friends and family as "Mali," was found dead on Seminary Avenue. Police said she was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

Delaney, from Santa Rosa, was leaving a friend’s house in Millsmont trying to catch the bus. Before she could make it, she was hit by a car and flung several feet off the road. It was 36 hours before anyone found her.

"These are always tragic events, and they impact the families forever. My brother died in a traffic collision when I was 5 years old and that has an ongoing – my brother is not here," said George Spies, with the Traffic Violence Rapid Response advocacy group. 

Delaney’s daughter, Coco, said the investigators told her they were submitting the case to the Alameda County District Attorneys’ office back in October, with no criminal charges to recommend. Coco said officers found the suspect, and told her he was remorseful and they did not find criminal intent, so they did not arrest him.

"I can't get closure," Coco told KTVU over the phone. "This is the worst thing that ever happened to me, and we still don't know what happened."

For months, Coco said her family stopped hearing back from the investigator.

When KTVU reached out to OPD asking for an update on the case, a spokesperson from OPD said the case had still not been sent to the DA, and would be sent this week. When asked if charges would come, the spokesperson said in an email, "Unfortunately, we don’t know. All we can share is that it will likely be presented this week."

"People don’t feel safe," said Spies. The Traffic Violence Rapid Response group is supporting neighbors near Mills College who want to see changes to the road made sooner rather than later. 

Oakland’s Department of Transportation has a tentative design of Seminary Avenue currently in the works, which is not set to begin construction until 2026 or 2027.

"If you wait two years or three years, right cause it’s scheduled to get in the ground around 2027 – well you can do the math, more people will be injured before that happens, and maybe even some people will die," Spies said.

Traffic records indicate nearly 60 people were hit along Seminary Avenue in the last decade.

Spies said there are quick-fixes the city can make in the meantime, like adding speed bumps or "tightening the lanes, through the use of plastic flexible posts, preventing people from making lane-passing movements, that sort of thing."

Spies and neighbors in the area are asking for work to begin sooner.

There are meetings scheduled between the Millsmont Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council and OakDOT happening later this month, where the city is gathering input from neighbors before they move forward with the construction. 

The city is working towards having a final design for Seminary Avenue by later this year.