Two LUSD students die in car crash

Van carrying 12 overturns in slough

Lilly Lim, Co-Editor-in-Chief

For a Bear Creek senior, it was a typical Friday afternoon as she looked forward to driving around and having fun with friends.  Two hours later, two of her friends would be dead.

Reports say the van she was driving was headed westbound towards King Island Road on Eight Mile Road on Nov. 22.  Due to an unknown cause, the van veered to the left off the roadway and overturned, landing on its roof in White Slough.

Freshman Richard Wilson died at the scene and Delta Sierra student Sariah Sayasit was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Initial reports say alcohol did not appear to play a factor in the crash.  However, videos later surfaced on a student’s private Instagram story and spread through text messages of the students smoking what appears to be marijuana in the van.

The driver, who allegedly did not have a license, was reportedly carrying 12 passengers; seven went to the hospital with minor injuries — some suffering from hypothermia after being in the water according to the “Sacramento Bee.”  The others were uninjured.

Wilson, who would have turned 15 yesterday, was honored with a  balloon release on the stage in the quad that took place after school on Nov. 25 to commemorate his death.  Wilson’s funeral service and viewing was held on Dec. 6.  Sophomore Lexie Smith, who became friends with Wilson this year, says he was like “the sun.”

“He was always happy whenever we talked and always uplifting someone,” Smith said.  “There was never a dull moment with him.”

Smith was shocked when she first heard about the accident.

“I thought, ‘he can’t be gone, there’s no way, this is just one big sick prank,’” Smith said.  “I cried for a few days.  I couldn’t stop thinking about him.”

Senior Reynante Bautista was angered by the lack of tribute shown at school.

“I was more surprised that the school didn’t have a moment of silence,” Bautista said.  “Regardless of what they were doing, students of Bear Creek died — as in killed, passed on, gone.  Their lives should be respected.  You can’t brush the situation off because they were overpacked in a car and were high.”

An informal poll conducted by “The Bruin Voice” revealed many students didn’t know that the accident even happened.

Through the outpouring of support has also been voices of condemnation, especially for the driver of the vehicle.  A week following the accident, a video of the driver vaping in the hospital spread among students through text messages.  The driver later posted her thoughts on the situation on her Snapchat story.

“For those going out [of] their way to post and sub me talking about how I should’ve died instead of them, maybe you were right,” the driver said.

The driver then went on to explain the accident.

“As soon as I came out [of] the water, I was crying,” the driver wrote.  “I couldn’t find my little sisters, I was out of breath and was in the middle of my anxiety attack.  I went back and punched the window until it broke, and I was able to get my sister out.”

The driver says that the students tried giving Wilson mouth-to-mouth but were unsuccessful, and Sayasit was unable to unbuckle her seatbelt in the van.  The driver also wrote of a man who came to the scene of the accident but did nothing to help.

“The guy who was at the scene and called the cops did NOT want to give us his knife so we [could] cut the seatbelt,” The driver said.  “I got bruised ribs and a hand full of cuts.”

Smith plans to honor Wilson by coordinating a balloon release for family and friends that do not attend Bear Creek.

“I have friends who were cousins… who never got to say goodbye,” Smith said.

The accident remains under investigation by the Stockton CHP.