BAKERSFIELD - The county is on pace for a record year for pedestrian deaths. Now, we have a look beyond those numbers, the story of a woman who was turning her life around before she was hit and killed while crossing Cottonwood Road two weeks ago.
The Highway Patrol is still looking for the driver who struck Gloria Tillman. On Thursday, friends and family gathered to remember her life and the recent move she made to make it better.
Tillman was homeless until last year. That's when the Kern County Homeless Collaborative chose her to be one of a dozen to take part in the Home First program and get a fresh start.
"I don't care how mad she would be at the end of the day she would always manage to say, love you. And, I just always liked that about her," said Vicki Sykes, the housing placement specialist at Flood Ministries.
Those touched by the 53-year-old met to memorialize her life after she was killed in a hit-and-run on Cottonwood Road on August 15th.
"Yeah, I'm going to miss her. She was just, you know, they say people come into your life for a reason. And, I know there was a reason she entered my life," said Sykes.
The Kern County Homeless Collaborative found Tillman to be the most medically vulnerable homeless woman last year and offered her subsidized housing.
"Oh, she took a whole bunch of pride in that, 100 percent, you know. She really enjoyed it, really loved having a home," said Tillman's lifelong friend, Joe Wilkerson.
"She had a market across the street and so often went back and forth across the street, to the apartment to the store, and that's exactly where she was hit," said Kim Albers, Executive Director of Flood Ministries.
As Tillman left her homeless life in the past, those at her memorial say she likely never knew the future she created for others she met on the streets, living and leading as an example.
"When she went into housing, our street credibility went up big time, that it can be done. It can be done," said Albers.
"She showed that anybody can do it no matter where you at in life. And, God is good," said Wilkerson.
The CHP said Thursday they've exhausted their leads in this case. If you have a tip, call them at 864-4444.