As she did most afternoons, Maria Lusminia Colindres was waiting for the bus at her stop in Wheaton. At 77, Colindres still worked in the evenings cleaning offices in downtown Silver Spring.
She was perched on a metal bench along Veirs Mill Road just after 4:30 p.m. Thursday when a Ford Explorer trying to make a U-turn suddenly careened across six lanes of traffic and slammed into her.
The driver, Cheryl Denise Green, 56, of Rockville, had three children in the car with her, police said. All of them escaped injury.
But Colindres, a mother of 12 who worked long hours so she could travel back and forth to her native Nicaragua, died a short time later at a nearby hospital.
On the Friday before Mother’s Day, Colindres’s family gathered at her small red-brick home a few blocks from the bus stop to mourn the hardworking grandmother who babysat, danced, sang and threw parties.
“She was such a generous person,” said her 24-year-old granddaughter, Tania Santana, wiping tears from her eyes and standing outside the front door, which is surrounded by Virgin Mary statues. “She always gave to her children and never expected anything in return.”
As the family grieved and friends dropped by with coffee and food, Montgomery County police were investigating the bizarre circumstances of the incident.
Green was driving east on Veirs Mill Road, police said. At Ferrara Avenue, she attempted to make a U-turn.
“Investigators believe the vehicle may have struck the westbound, right-hand curb of Veirs Mill Road,” a police statement said.
The SUV crossed three westbound lanes on Veirs Mill, hopped the median, then crossed the eastbound lanes before barreling into the bus stop. The SUV ran over Colindres, shattering several pieces of the shelter’s glass and bending the steel frame, before stopping in a nearby back yard.
Tire tracks from the Explorer — outlined in bright green paint by police — were still visible Friday on the median and at the spot where the bench had been bolted to the ground. A worker was installing new glass and fixing the bus stop frame.
No charges have been filed. Police, who said the investigation is ongoing, are asking for any witnesses to come forward. Efforts to reach Green at her home in the 1600 block of Yale Place were unsuccessful.
At Colindres’s home, she was remembered as the standby babysitter, the organizer of frequent family gatherings and the provider of abundant meals.
“She was always the life of the party, singing, dancing,” Santana said. “She was the one who always got us together.”
Colindres worked long hours, but the hard work was worth it, her granddaughter said, because the earnings paid for trips back to Nicaragua so she could visit loved ones who had not immigrated to the United States.
Her next trip had been planned for July.
Alice Crites contributed to this report.