Since 29-year-old Lilliana Acevedo was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident, her relatives have spent more than a year wondering whether the person responsible would ever be found.
This week, police charged Sylvia Lugo, 38, with driving the car that killed Acevedo in Juniata Park last May. Lugo, of Hunting Park, was arrested Tuesday on charges of vehicular homicide and drunk driving.
Betzy Cruz, Acevedo's cousin, said she and the rest of the family had mixed feelings.
"We are relieved that finally somebody is going to pay for what happened," she said. "But at the same time, it's just another reminder that Lilliana is not with us."
Acevedo, of North Philadelphia, worked in the admissions department of St. Joseph's Hospital. Colleagues and relatives described her as upbeat and friendly, someone who smiled freely and often.
On the night of May 1, 2010, Acevedo was parked near Second Street and Erie Avenue, close to her aunt's house, where a family party was being held.
She was getting something out of the backseat when, police said, Lugo drove by in an Oldsmobile and struck her. Acevedo was thrown into the air and died at the scene. Lugo never slowed down, police said.
Acevedo's extended family is large and close, Cruz said, with cousins who are more like siblings. This past year, she said, has been "a nightmare."
After the accident, relatives passed out fliers in the neighborhood, asking the public for help finding the driver.
"It has been a trying time for all of us," she said. "It was terrible to think that this person was out there, going on about their life like nothing ever happened."