SUV might help solve mystery surrounding woman’s death

This image taken from surveillance video shows a gray Toyota RAV4 that may have passed a woman who died in Belmont.

By the Daily Post staff

Belmont Police are asking for help in identifying the driver of a gray SUV who may be able to help police piece together what happened to 61-year-old Maria Castro, who died after she was found laying in a street.

Castro, a Belmont resident, died on Monday (Nov. 12) shortly after being found by a motorist in the area of Cipriani Boulevard and Newlands Avenue at 7:02 a.m.

“We think that person is solely a witness,” said Capt. Pat Halleran. “We want to know if they saw her, because if not, that may mean she wasn’t in the roadway.”

Police have been piecing together surveillance camera footage from the woman’s walking path, but have about a minute of unaccounted time between when the woman was last seen walking along the road and the 911 call being placed.

A small gray SUV, likely a 2017 Toyota RAV4, is seen in some of the videos heading north on Cipriani, the same direction the woman was seen walking.

Halleran said it’s entirely possible that the driver passed Castro every day and didn’t think anything of it when they passed her Monday morning.

But police still want to know if Castro was perhaps bent over in pain, already collapsed or up on the hillside when the car passed by, in order to determine what exactly happened to her.

Halleran said because of the way that Castro was found and the fact she didn’t have more bumps and bruises, it appears very unlikely that she was hit by a car or dumped out of a car. She only had head injuries. But police are not ruling out those possibilities.

The coroner’s office is still trying to determine the manner of death.

Video of the car can be found at

Anyone with information can call Belmont police at (650) 595-7400.