Gabriella Licata

Gabriella Licata was five months pregnant with a little girl who she was planning to name Aura when she was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

It was bad enough that a Gilbert mother lost her 22-year-old daughter, who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in Grants Pass, Oregon.

But Mary Lynn Rana also lost a second life. Her deceased daughter, Gabriella Licata, also was five months pregnant with a little girl who she was planning to name Aura.

Funeral services are scheduled to be held at 10 a.m., Wednesday, June 12, at Queen of Heaven Catholic Funeral Home in Mesa, with burial to follow.

Rana said she is overwhelmed by a heartbreaking combination of grief and outrage that she would lose her daughter and granddaughter, and that the driver would callously flee the scene.

“The fact that he left my daughter and my future granddaughter, I am livid,” said Rana, a massage therapist. “She might have been saved. Maybe they could not have saved my daughter, but they could have saved my grandchild.”

Deputy Chief Jim Hamilton of the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety said police received a description of the vehicle involved in the crash. An officer spotted a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, with damage matching the report, parked on a nearby side street not far from where the accident occurred.

Hamilton said police questioned the car’s registered owner, but he has not been arrested or charged pending the results of an ongoing investigation. He said that police are completing a reconstruction of the scene on Grants Pass Parkway and that an autopsy has been completed on Licata’s remains.

The incident occurred shortly before 1 a.m. and Licata was pronounced dead on the scene, he said.

He said investigators “are trying to put it back together” to learn how Licata was killed and to develop evidence that will be reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office, which will determine if charges will be filed.

Police say that the reasons why hit-and-run drivers flee from the scene generally include that they are impaired, that they have warrants for their arrest from unrelated incidents, or because they are afraid.

“I never got to say goodbye to her. I cannot believe people could be so selfish,” Rana said.

Rana said she tracked down three young women who saw the suspect vehicle that night and then saw her daughter lying in the road. The women told Rana that Licata was unconscious but that she had a pulse. Another off-duty paramedic also stopped to render aid.

But she said her daughter had stopped breathing by the time firefighters arrived.

Rana said that Licata loved the outdoors and was a very spiritual person. She said her daughter wanted to have a natural childbirth. She left Gilbert with the intention of heading to a commune in Ashland, Oregon, where she planned to give birth. She was planning to name her baby Aura, as in having the aura of a good person.

Rana is trying to piece together the last 48 hours of her daughter’s life, which remains sketchy and shrouded in mystery. She knows a friend gave Licata a ride to California, and that her daughter somehow made it to the Eugene, Oregon, bus station.

She said Licata’s omnipresent backpack was missing, that her pants were ripped, and that she had no cellphone and no money by the time she reached Eugene, a college town along Interstate 5.

A woman came to Licata’s assistance by buying her a sandwich and a Greyhound bus ticket to Grants Pass, where she was struck by the hit-and-run driver while walking along the Rogue Parkway.

Rana said that another friend of Licata’s was supposed to pick her up in Grants Pass and give her a ride, but that the friend never showed up. It is unclear if Licata ever made it to the commune.

Licata worked with her mother for three years at Mary Lynn’s Day Spa in Gilbert. Rana said Licata’s ultimate goal was to become a veterinarian.

A Go Fund Me account was established to pay for Licata’s funeral. It exceeded the goal of $10,000 in two days. The address is gofundme.com/WeLoveYouGabriella.

Reach Jim Walsh at 480-898-5639 or at jwalsh@timespublications.com.

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