SJ community honors woman fatally struck by car while leading prayer procession

"I always tell people she's the Cesar Chavez of our community"

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Friday, December 9, 2022
SJ community honors woman fatally struck by car while leading prayer
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San Jose community is mourning the death of a beloved advocate Maria Marcelo, who was killed while crossing the street leading a prayer procession.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Jose community is mourning the death of a beloved advocate and community member. Maria Marcelo was killed while crossing the street on Wednesday night, at Perrymont Ave. and Little Orchard St. She was leading a Rosary procession as a part of the nine-day Virgin de Juqulia tradition.

On Thursday, a black bow was hung over the entrance of the Healing Grove Health Center in San Jose. Another was affixed to the office door of Marcelo, who was a center co-founder and beloved community leader.

At the time of the accident, many were near to witness the tragedy unfold.

"There were children there. There were lots of families there," Dr. Angela Bymaster, a family physician at Healing Grove told ABC7 News. "It's just not something anyone wants to see happen."

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Dr. Bymaster is a close friend of Marcelo, and said she spent months planning the days-long Oaxacan Christmastime tradition. She was killed on the eighth night of celebration.

Less than 24-hours later, Marcelo's loved ones were determined to continue her work, even if that meant getting back out there on foot for the final night of prayer.

"Maria's daughter actually spoke up said, 'She would want us to walk,'" Bymaster added. "You know, there's this courage that Maria had that you don't - if something bad happens, you don't run from it."

Only this time, Thursday's procession included a San Jose police escort.

"They are very fond of her," Bymaster said about Marcelo and SJPD. "We just called them up and said, 'Hey, can we get a police escort tonight?' And they said absolutely."

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Marcelo's death marks the city's 61st traffic death in this record year.

However, more than statistics, Bymaster wants Marcelo to be remembered for who she was and her many contributions.

"I always tell people she's the Cesar Chavez of our community. Anything that happened in this neighborhood has her fingerprints all over it," Bymaster said.

She's described as a woman who was ingrained in her city, someone dedicated to seeing others thrive, and was described as selfless in every sense.

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"Even though we're a really big community, and she has so many connections, she cared about you," Briseida Perez told ABC7 News.

"She was just so full of love," Bymaster added. "She was just so special, she loved everybody, and she especially loved the people who are the hardest to love."

Marcelo leaves behind three adult children, a husband, and a community that came together by the hundreds Thursday night, in her honor.

Bymaster said, "It was about Virgin of Juqulia, but now it's about her."

Healing Grove Health Center shared a link to Maria Marcelo Memorial Community Fund. Click here for more information.

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