SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A beloved community leader in San Jose was killed by a “reckless” driver as she was leading a religious procession on foot Wednesday night, according to the victim’s friends.

The victim was identified by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo as Maria Marcelo.

“Our community lost a tireless champion, and many of us lost a dear friend. Maria Marcelo never wavered from advocating for families in the Washington Guadalupe neighborhood and beyond, and her service in leading outreach for Healing Grove’s clinic saved lives and supported thousands of children,” Liccardo wrote.

Maria Marcelo was a mother of three children. (Image courtesy Healing Grove Health Center)

According to the San Jose Police Department, Marcelo was walking across Little Orchard Street around 7:30 p.m. when she was struck by a 2004 Buick sports utility vehicle. Marcelo died at the scene.

The man who was driving the Buick stopped and cooperated with investigators, according police Sgt. Christian Camarillo.

“No drug or alcohol influence is suspected,” Camarillo wrote. The driver’s name was not released by police.

Marcelo, 47, was a co-founder of Healing Grove Health Center in San Jose.

Her close friend, Brett Bymaster, said she was leading a Oaxacan traditional Christmas procession honoring the Virgen de Juquila when she was killed.

“Maria was leading day 8 of the Virgen de Juquila. Maria, and I, and the Healing Grove team had been planning this celebration for months. It was Maria’s vision that people would do more than reciting the Rosary — that they would in fact grow closer to Jesus Christ. Hundreds of people have been in attendance at the event in the past 8 days,” Bymaster wrote.

Her friends said the motorist was driving recklessly when the fatal accident occurred.

Bymaster, who is HGHC’s executive director, said Marcelo died doing what she loved.

“No doubt about it, Maria died in the line of duty doing exactly the thing she loved the most — practicing Healing Grove’s mission: Sharing the love of Jesus through health care, soul care, and culture care,” he wrote.

Marcelo is survived by her two sons, daughter, and husband.

“Our hearts go out to Maria’s family,” Liccardo wrote.

According to police, 31 pedestrians have been killed in San Jose traffic accident in 2022.

Anyone with information on the traffic accident is asked to contact San Jose Police Department Detective Bowen by emailing or by calling 408-277-4654.