Harayna Tolbert

Family, Friends Seek Answers After Young Mother Killed in Chicago Car Crash

Family said they have no idea who the driver could be

Family and friends held a vigil Friday evening to remember a young mother killed in a car crash last weekend on Chicago’s south side.

Police said the driver of her car ran away from the scene.

Harayna Tolbert, 31, was out celebrating her birthday. Family said she dropped off a friend and was supposed to head home, but she never made it back.

Those who knew Tolbert said she didn’t deserve to die like this.

“She was a great person. She was wonderful. She was kind to everyone. She was the life of the party. She had a good heart,” said her friend Aleha Miller. “Everybody loved Rayna. No matter who came in contact with Rayna, they loved her.”

The mother of three was a passenger in her car when police said it crashed into a bridge support near 79th Street and Normal early Sunday morning. The driver of the car fled the scene, police said.

“Chicago got all these cameras nobody seen nothing,” said Miller. “She should have been by herself so this is a whole another mystery, like where was she? Who was with her.”

For two days following her death family said no one was notified. They thought she went missing and even filed a police report.

“We basically did our own investigation, called all the hospitals, called the police stations,” she said. “We didn’t get no answers.”

Family called a towing company and learned her car was towed because of the crash. The towing company told her family they recovered the vehicle near 78th Street and Wallace. A call to the medical examiner confirmed her body was at the morgue.

“Just to know that she was there by herself, like she was just a nobody, like ya’ll didn’t contact nobody -- that’s just wrong,” said Miller. “She had identification on her.”

Family and friends remembered Tolbert as caring. The mother of three was a hard worker. But what happened to her and who she was with in her final moments of life remain a mystery.

“How can you just leave a person like that? You don’t have a heart,” said Miller. “That lady has three kids. She has a mother. She has a whole family, like that’s heartless. That’s heartless.”

Family said they have no idea who the driver could be. Chicago police continue to investigate the crash.

NBC 5 reached out to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office for a comment regarding the notification. A spokesperson told NBC 5 in an email the agency that reports a death to the medical examiner's office or the investigating agency is responsible for notifying family. The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office takes over if those agencies are unable to locate the next of kin and has a staff member dedicated to locating the next of kin in those cases.

Contact Us