A Queens grandmother walking across a busy street to drop off her recyclables Monday night was mowed down by a van trying to beat a yellow light, officials said.
Virginia Montalvo, 71, was pushing her cart full of bottles and cans across Jamaica Ave. when a dark-colored van roared through the intersection, witnesses told police.
The sickening impact knocked Montalvo to the street - yet the hit-and-run driver sped away without even slowing down, witnesses said.
"Bottles and cans flew up in the air and spread out everywhere," said witness Catherine Ferrise. "The driver had to know they hit someone, but they just kept driving like they had no soul."
"The driver struck the woman dead and didn't even hesitate," said Ferrise, who was walking home with her two daughters when she saw the 10:25 p.m. accident at the corner of 98th St.
"She laid there bleeding on the street and the driver didn't care," Ferrise said.
Montalvo, a mother of six and grandmother of 12, died three hours later at Jamaica Hospital.
"Virginia was a very loving woman," said Juan Martinez, who shared an apartment on 96th St. in Woodhaven with the victim.
"She was just collecting cans to make ends meet," said Martinez, 33. "These are rough times and she was just trying to do right for her family."
An immigrant from Peru, Montalvo enjoyed nothing more than cooking big meals for her grandchildren, Martinez said.
"She lived her whole life doing the right thing," Martinez said, "and to think that someone could come speeding along and take it all away in a heartbeat is just devastating."
The cargo van that struck Montalvo was last spotted fleeing east along Jamaica Ave., officials said.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call CrimeStoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.