A volunteer crossing guard pushed children out of the path of an approaching car in front of Stanley Middle School in Lafayette Wednesday – taking the impact of the collision himself.
His family identified the crossing guard as 45-year-old Ashley Dias, a Lafayette resident and product of both Stanley Middle and Acalanes High School who volunteered as a crossing guard because there was a shortage of people willing to do the job. His family said Wednesday was only his second day on the job.
Panicked calls for help started to come in at 3 p.m. as the collision unfolded, children screaming as the guard was hit and dragged under the car, rescuers having to jack it up to reach the unresponsive man.
A child who contacted this site said the unidentified guard saw the SUV coming toward and pushed him clear, the car striking a glancing blow to the child’s bike but catching the guard on its passenger side.
Dias was rushed to a local hospital but died there, according to family members. The child suffered a minor injury.
Initial reports that several other children had been struck along with the guard turned out to be untrue, with many children rushing home to tell parents of the tragedy.
Investigators shut down the area of School Street at Paradise Court for several hours following the collision.
There was no immediate word if drugs or alcohol played a part in the tragedy. The driver of the car was taken to Lafayette police headquarters for an interview, neighbors saying that she had only just picked up a child from school before the collision occurred.
By nightfall, small bunches of flowers and mourning candles had begun to appear at the scene of the accident, a handwritten note reading: “Thank you for keeping us safe.”
On Thursday, Mayor Susan Candell offered her condolences to Ashley Dias’s family.
“What happened is a true tragedy in every way,” she wrote. “We will need to mourn and heal together as a community, and support all of the families who were involved.”