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Vigil for Northeast Philly hit-and-run victim recalls a troubling trend citywide

Five people were killed in hit-and-run incidents in Philadelphia last week. No arrests have been made.

Family and friends pray during the vigil for Saixiang Lin at St. Vincent Street and Summerdale Ave. in Phila. on Nov. 14, 2020. Saixiang Lin was one of five fatal hit-and-run victims in Philly over the last week.
Family and friends pray during the vigil for Saixiang Lin at St. Vincent Street and Summerdale Ave. in Phila. on Nov. 14, 2020. Saixiang Lin was one of five fatal hit-and-run victims in Philly over the last week.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

Incense wafted through the intersection of Summerdale Avenue and St. Vincent Street on Saturday night in Northeast Philadelphia. A Buddhist monk from a nearby temple chanted a prayer so that Saixiang Lin, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver there Tuesday morning, would be granted entry into a holy land.

Beside him on the sidewalk, Lin’s family just wanted answers and action from the Philadelphia Police Department.

“She was a beautiful, wonderful woman who did everything for everyone,” said daughter-in-law Joy Lin.

“Her life mattered.”

Saixiang Lin, 60, was struck shortly before 6 a.m. in the Castor Gardens neighborhood and pronounced dead at 2:35 a.m. Wednesday at Jefferson Torresdale Hospital. No arrests have been made, but Joy Lin believes there are witnesses and videos that will help solve the case.

“We want to know what direction the car came and what direction it drove away,” Joy Lin said.

Saturday’s vigil was organized with help from Greg Bucceroni, a community support specialist who works for the city. Bucceroni assured the family that police were investigating the case, but noted that it could take a “couple of weeks.”

“It does take some time,” Bucceroni told Saixiang’s family.

Bucceroni also noted a troubling trend of fatal hit-and-runs in the city. Lin’s death was the fourth in the city last week — a fifth occurred on Thursday — and there have been 120 fatal crashes on city streets so far this year, according to police.

On Nov. 7, a driver killed Elisa Osano, 81, on Oregon Avenue near Eighth Street around 5:10 p.m. On Monday night, Leonid Kadomsky, 37, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on the 7500 block of Roosevelt Boulevard in Rhawnhurst. A suspect in Kadomsky’s death, James R. Jones, 24, turned himseld in to police and faces numerous charges, including third-degree murder, DUI, and driving on a suspended license.

A few hours after Lin was struck on Tuesday, Shampella Glover, 48, was struck and killed on the 5600 block of Upland Way in Overbrook.

Around 4:40 a.m. Thursday, 69-year-old Patricia Williams was struck at 16th Street and Belfield Avenue in Logan.

On Friday, Mayor Jim Kenney told The Inquirer the spike in traffic deaths was “alarming." While the pandemic has meant fewer cars on the road, Kenney said that void has encouraged speeding and aggressive driving.

Joy Lin and Xiaoqun Lin, Saixiang’s husband, both spoke through a portable speaker, their voices trailing off to tears. Mingchu “Pearl” Huynh, president of the Northeast Philadelphia Chinese Association, said they had spoken of justice and sadness.

Saixiang Lin was born in China’s Fujian province and lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., before moving to Northeast Philadelphia because of the coronavirus pandemic. Joy Lin said her mother-in-law was a breast cancer survivor.

“Doctors told her she had many good years left,” Lin said. “She made it through, and now she’s gone.”

Joy Lin said her two sons, ages 3 and 6, were both able to see their grandmother in the hospital. Her older son was told his grandmother is a star in the sky above him. The younger son doesn’t know she’s gone.

“We haven’t told him yet,” Lin said. “He thinks she’s still in the hospital.”

Clark Lambo, a friend of the Lins who attended the vigil, said the family just wanted to make sure police treated them the same as any other victim.

“You come to a new place, for a better life, and you think it’s going to be safe, but you never know,” Lambo said.

Police are asking anyone with information on these incidents to call 911 or the Accident Investigation District at 215-685-3180.