Driver intentionally struck homeless woman going to church, officials say

A woman was rolling a cart across a church parking lot last week when a driver inched toward her and then accelerated, according to surveillance footage.

The white Nissan Altima struck the woman, sending her flying across the parking lot, before its driver took off.

Law enforcement officials in California are now searching for the driver, who they believe intentionally hit the 77-year-old homeless woman.

“He was antagonizing her,” Lt. Tya Modeste of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office told The Washington Post. “His actions were very deliberate.”

On Saturday, the woman was walking toward First Presbyterian Church of Hayward in Castro Valley, an unincorporated community in the Bay Area, when a man reversed out of a spot, surveillance video shows. The driver almost hit the woman, prompting her to yell at him, law enforcement officials said.

They appear to speak to each otherfor about 15 seconds, according to the video, which doesn’t include audio. When the woman walked away, the driver followed her, moving the vehicleforward to block her path to the church,video shows.

Eventually, the driver appeared to graze the woman, sending her stumblingand causing her to drop her cane. As she grabbed itwith her right hand, the driver looped around the parking lot.

Before she reached the church’s sidewalk, the vehicle began accelerating. The driver hit a parked car before speeding toward the woman, the video shows. After the vehicle hit the woman’s cart, she was thrust onto the car’s hood for nearly three seconds until she fell onto the pavement, according to the surveillance video. The car then sped off.

Aaron Horner, a pastor at the church, told The Post he dialed emergency services after witnessing the crash. He said church staff provided the woman first-aid until the ambulance arrived minutes later. She had some bruises and other open wounds that required stitching, Horner and Modeste said, and is being treated at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley.

“She was … pretty much in shock,” Horner said. “You could see quite a bit of blood.”

In the past six months, Horner said, the woman visited the church daily for meals, services, charity events and even Spanish lessons. She developed a community there, Horner said.

“She’s a good person, and she just happens to be in a bad spot,” Horner said. “She’s 77 and not in good health. It’s going to take her a while to recover.”

Modeste said the driver could face charges for a hit-and-run and assault with a deadly weapon.

While Modeste said she has worked dozens of similar crimes and hit-and-runs, it’s rare forsomeoneto attack a stranger with their vehicle.

“She’s an elderly person,” Modeste said. “If that doesn’t stop you, I don’t know what will.”