Linda Falayi, shown on a 2015 trip to the Bahamas with her grandson, died Monday night when she was hit by a car in DeKalb County.
Photo: Family photo
Photo: Family photo

Hit-and-run driver who killed DeKalb grandmother still on the run

Investigators believe Hyundai Sonata struck Linda Falayi

For more than 30 years, Linda Falayi cleaned rooms at Atlanta’s Hyatt Regency. When her shift ended, she’d usually take the bus back to her DeKalb County apartment, her family said. 

And that was her plan days before Thanksgiving. But she never made it home. 

Falayi, 68, had just gotten off a bus near Covington Highway and Young Road when she was struck by a vehicle shortly after 10 p.m., according to DeKalb police spokeswoman Michaela Vincent. Falayi’s family said she was just steps away from home when she was hit by a car that didn’t stop. 

The impact threw Falayi nearly 60 feet, according to police. The mother of four and grandmother of 11 died from her injuries. 

“She’s a mom. She’s a grandmother. She’s an aunt. She has family out there that loves her,” Falayi’s daughter, Shaquetta Brooks, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week. “That’s what’s the hardest part for us to accept. The fact that they kept going and didn’t stop for my mom.”

Linda Falayi spent time in the Bahamas on a family trip in 2015. She died after being hit by a car Monday night in DeKalb County.
Photo: Family photo

Falayi’s family met at the DeKalb police station two days after her death to ask the public for help to identify the driver responsible. One witness told police a white car may have been involved, Vincent said. 

On Friday, DeKalb police said no arrests have been made in the case. Investigators now believe the car involved was a Hyundai Sonata with a model year between 2014 and 2018 after speaking with a dealership. Police want to find the car and the driver. 

“It’s a busy road and a busy intersection,” Brooks said. “There’s accidents there all the time. It’s just a bad intersection, period.”

Grandson Jarquavious Grier told the AJC he sometimes worried about someone stealing his grandmother’s purse or knocking her down during her commute. Falayi, known as Tinky to many friends, wasn’t very tall, Grier said. 

“I never thought it would be something like this, someone would hit her with a car,” he said. 

Falayi’s co-workers were also shocked and saddened to learn of her death, according to Peter McMahon, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. 

“She was a much beloved friend and colleague who had a career of more than 30 years with our hotel,” McMahon said in an emailed statement to the AJC. “She touched so many of us with her warmth and kind spirit. She will be missed by us all. Our thoughts are with her family during this very difficult time.”

The family was forced to spend a first Thanksgiving holiday without Falayi, who had already started planning what she’d be cooking. 

“Everybody’s starting to really understand that it really happened and it’s not dream,” Grier said. 

A funeral is planned Saturday for Falayi, according to her online obituary. 

Anyone with information on the crash is asked to contact DeKalb police. 

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