Local Woman Who Made Headlines Hit, Killed on Highway 99 in Manteca

"I just really admire her."

If the name Starla Beltran rings a bell, that's because she made the news twice.

The first time, when she found a wallet with $4,000 inside and returned it -- an act of kindness a Manteca car dealership rewarded with a free car. And state Assemblywoman Susan Eggman gave her an award for.

The second time, her life had taken a sorrowful turn, she was arrested for assaulting a cop and high on drugs.

Now Starla Beltran is making the news for the third time, it's for her death on Highway 99 in Manteca and her big sister Sarah is asking for compassion.

"I just want people to remember Starla for the nice, happy, friendly person that she was," Sarah Santiago, her older sister, said.

Santiago says Starla started using meth and then graduated to heroin. She was found wearing a hospital wristband. Her family can only guess why she was standing on southbound Highway 99.

The California Highway Patrol says they are still investigating, but they say a witness saw her near the center divide at Lathrop Road a short time before she was hit by a car and killed late Sunday night.

"She told me personally she wanted my help so she could go see her son again," Santiago said.

This is the reason they believe Starla didn't mean to hurt herself -- the 3-year-old son she left behind.

"I just wish the last words I told her were something more encouraging. I wish I told her I loved her," Santiago said.

But we don't always do the right thing. For most of her life, Starla did.

Her sister is hoping everyone who surrounded her at her best will remember her for that spirit.

"I know she never had any bad intentions," Santiago said.

Starla's family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral expenses.