It’s been nearly three years since 80-year-old Romelia Gallardo was fatally injured when she was hit by a car outside her Cambridge apartment building, and now her two daughters are hoping that a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the driver will bring justice for their family.
The daughters said in a joint telephone interview that the pain of the sudden loss of their mother was intensified when they learned that the driver, Ashley Monturio, drove off after calling 911. The crash took place as Gallardo was crossing the driveway at the L.B. Johnson Apartments on Erie Street on Sept. 6, 2018. Gallardo was rushed to Cambridge Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
“It’s just been really painful, knowing the way my mom died, the way this woman reacted,” Dora Gallardo said. “No compassion. No sympathy, no love towards my mom.”
Monturio, a Pembroke resident then driving a Lexus SUV, is currently facing a single misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of a crash after causing personal injury in Cambridge District Court, and she has pleaded not guilty.
In court papers, her defense attorney, Thomas Hoopes, cited a State Police investigator who concluded Gallardo had bent down and “most likely” was not visible to the driver at the time of the crash.
Hoopes, who is only representing Monturio in the criminal case, said that at the time of the crash his client immediately realized something terrible had happened. She stayed on the scene while she called 911 and provided critical information to first responders, he said.
“She did everything right,” he said referring to the criminal case.
The Globe reported in 2018 that Cambridge police identified Monturio as the alleged driver by reviewing surveillance video that captured the vehicle and its license plate.
The Gallardo sisters said they will leave it to Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office to handle the criminal case, which they hope will force Monturio into acknowledging the harm she caused their mother and her children.
“We want her to acknowledge what she has done,” Dora Gallardo said. “She broke the law and she has to be responsible for that.”
But the sisters said they also feel they and their two brothers needed to take steps on their own and on behalf of their mother, and that propelled them into filing the wrongful death and negligence lawsuit in Middlesex Superior Court.
In court papers, Victoria M. Mair, the Boston attorney for the Gallardo siblings, said the family is seeking at least $500,000 in damage from Monturio and her husband, Michael, the registered owner of the car.
In the lawsuit, the family alleges Monturio twice drove over Gallardo, before calling 911 and then driving off for a job interview.
“I don’t know how a person could do so much harm to a human being and just walk away,” said Eleanora A. Mazariegoes. “What we want is justice for our mother. Justice.”