‘Didn’t deserve that’: Mother killed in a hit-and-run, loved ones ask community for help

Jessica Vela was killed crossing Harry Wurzbach Road on May 30. Police believe the suspect was driving white Lincoln MKX.

SAN ANTONIO — On Wednesday, a family laid a mother of four to rest. Police say Jessica Vela, 39, was killed in a hit-and-run on Harry Wurzbach Road near Timberlane Drive on the northeast side. It happened on May 30.

“She was coming home from the grocery store, she was leaving Walmart,” said Vela’s younger sister, Ashley Gutierrez. “To know that somebody didn’t stop — maybe they did for 5 seconds — but they didn’t get out of the car, they didn’t call 911. We heard from the neighborhood [the crash] had such a loud impact, neighbors ran to her aid. One of the neighbors held her until she passed away.”

San Antonio police say they collected vehicle parts from the crash site. Investigators believe the suspect was driving a 2000 to 2010 white Lincoln MKX.

“My brother and I live together in Dallas, so we drove straight to the funeral home,” said Gutierrez. “They asked us if we wanted to see her … raw. I think she would have wanted us to see what happened to her. So, we did. The funeral was a very hard day for us. I was the one to close the casket at the end. That was my older sister; she taught me about hair, she taught me about nails. I looked up to her, no matter what she had gone through or done.”

Gutierrez remembers her sister as a “joyful, smart and fabulous” woman.

“She leaves behind four beautiful children,” said Gutierrez. “Not only did they lose a mother, but their father also passed away in a car accident about a year ago. That’s all they had.”

Just three days before her 28th birthday, Gutierrez received the gut-wrenching call.

“We weren’t as close as we used to be,” she said. “If she didn’t call me on my exact birthday, she would still call a week later. She would say, ‘You were my little niña, you are so grown up now, you’re getting old.’ It’s hard, because I am never going to get those calls again. I will miss that the most.”  

As a woman of faith, Gutierrez says she believes in forgiveness. She is asking anyone with information to please come forward.

“She didn’t deserve that,” said Gutierrez. “Maybe it was an accident where truly someone got scared. But if we could get help from the community, I think it would bring a lot of peace.”

Crime Stoppers is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest. You can remain anonymous. If you know anything about what happened, call 210-224-7876.

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