Police and relatives of an 82-year-old woman who was struck and killed in the Far Northeast section of Philadelphia pleaded Friday for the public’s help in identifying the hit-and-run driver.
Yulia Sherman had just finished shopping about 6 p.m. Thursday at the NetCost Market on Bustleton Avenue in Somerton, and was crossing at a traffic light with a shopping cart when she was struck, Police Capt. Mark Overwise said at a news conference near the market. Medics pronounced her dead at the scene.
“Everybody knows Yulia,” her son-in-law Mark Ingerman said at the news conference, pleading for help in identifying the driver. He said his mother-in-law had immigrated in 1978 from the then-Soviet Union to the United States, and opened a market and a restaurant in the Northeast but was no longer working.
“My mother-in-law was one of the kindest, most-loved individuals that I know of,” said Ingerman, adding that she had a “welcoming soul.”
Sherman was one of the first Russian-speaking business owners in the city, he said. She had opened a supermarket on Old Bustleton Avenue near Welsh Road in Bustleton, and after she closed that, she opened an Eastern European restaurant named Odessa, after the port city in Ukraine where she hailed from, he said.
Her customers knew her like “a grandma,” Ingerman said. She was never impersonal, he said. “It was always like, ‘How was your family? How are the kids? What are they doing now?’”
“Somerton was considered to be her home,” he said. “I know somebody somewhere ... somebody had to have seen something. I am asking at the bottom of my family’s heart. ... If you saw anything, please let the police know.”
Sherman’s daughter, Alla, asked that “if anybody witnessed the accident ... please contact the police as soon as possible so that our family can be in peace and we can find out exactly what happened.”
Ingerman said Sherman had two children and five grandchildren.
The NetCost Market caters to Northeast Philadelphia’s immigrant Russian and Eastern European communities. Sherman was in the crosswalk at Leo Mall Drive and was crossing the avenue when she was hit, Overwise said. Police said she lived on Byberry Road a few blocks from the market.
Overwise said police believe the fleeing vehicle was an SUV and was not traveling at high speed. Police have recovered “small parts” from the vehicle, he said.
“I can tell you Bustleton Avenue seems to be becoming the new Roosevelt Boulevard,” Overwise said. “It’s a four-lane street, two lanes north and two lanes south, with a left-turn lane in the middle. I know the city has done things to try to make it safer, but people really need to curb their speed,” he said, noting the speed limit on that block is 35 mph.
He asked anyone with information to call the police Accident Investigation District at 215-685-3180.