NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police Thursday night were asking for help from the public in finding the driver who killed a Brooklyn woman just hours before the New Year in Morningside Heights.

As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, photographer Guler Ugur-Yaacobi, 44, was heading home from her studio on New Year’s Eve when her life was cut short by a hit-and-run driver who police said left her to die.
“I’m just sad when I saw what happened yesterday,” said St. Luke’s Hospital employee Nana Marfoa. “I was really sad.”

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The accident happened around 6 p.m. Wednesday as Ugur-Yaacobi crossed Amsterdam Avenue eastbound on 113th Street when a black sport-utility vehicle headed north on Amsterdam Avenue struck her.

Residents were sickened that the driver never stopped to help.

“Any hit-and-run is pretty reprehensible,” said Frank Kehl of Morningside Heights. “And I often wonder if there’s ever any other way of looking at it than total irresponsibility.”

“These people drive fast, because traffic lights are very-well synchronized,” another resident said. “It’s like you’re crossing a freeway.”

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The accident happened right in front of St. Luke’s Hospital, but doctors there could not do enough to save the woman. Hospital employees and neighbors said the intersection was heavily traveled by vehicles and pedestrians.

And while most people who frequently cross at the intersection said they do not consider it dangerous, they always have their guard up.

“You’re constantly, like, having to, like, protect yourself and just be defensive, and you cannot just rely on the lights anymore,” said Judy Onghai of Morningside Heights. “You have to be extra cautious.”

With the amount of foot and vehicle traffic in this area, police were hopeful someone got a good look at the SUV and the person behind the wheel.

Friends said a memorial service was being planned for Ugur-Yaacobi at TriBeCa Synagogue.

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