Mother killed in hit-and-run crash in Peoria with car full of Christmas presents

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 5:16 PM MST
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PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A family woke up to shocking news hearing their mom was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Peoria just days before Christmas. The driver is still on the run. “That’s what hurts the most is not knowing if she was laying there alive. This person just drove off like she was just a piece of trash,” said Anthony Cortez, Nichole’s father.

Cortez said he feels empty this Christmas. His daughter, Nichole, was killed Monday in a hit-and-run crash on the Loop 101 off-ramp at Peoria Avenue. “The car overheated. So she tried to pull over but didn’t exactly make it. So the car was kind of in the middle of the lane. She got out with the door open. And somebody came by and swerved and hit the other side and hit her. And she flew about 50 feet,” he said.

He says Nichole was coming home from her job in cleaning services. “She was so stressed out about getting her children Christmas presents. We’re all kind of struggling a bit. So she’s been trying to earn extra money,” he added.

She’d picked up extra night shifts to pay for gifts for her five kids. “They found presents in her car. She loved her children. She was a single mom, trying to do her best with her children. She would do anything for anybody,” said Cortez.

Cortez says what should be a happy time together this week for his family is now a nightmare. “It’s totally affected our family. And especially at Christmas time. It’s making it very difficult to try to do Christmas, we’re just days away and now I have to try to come up with money to bury my daughter,” he said.

DPS says the car that left the scene is described as a 2010-2014 Dodge Challenger with a red racing stripe going from the front to the back of the vehicle. The car also has damage to the front grill’s hood.

Cortez is hoping someone does the right thing and turns themselves in, saying justice will help the family feel closure. “I really want them to be caught. How someone can just hit somebody on the side of the road and just leave them is beyond me. I’m hoping and praying that she wasn’t on the side of the road suffering,” he said.

If you have any information about this crash, you’re asked to call DPS. The family has set up a GoFundMe to help pay for the funeral.