REDWOOD CITY -- Police will not seek criminal charges against the driver who collided fatally with a 14-year-old girl riding her bike to school in November because she was at fault for the crash, authorities said Thursday.
Leyla Beban, a Woodside High freshman, should have yielded to the GMC pickup truck in front of her on Jefferson Avenue as it slowed down to turn onto Alameda De Las Pulgas, Redwood City police Capt. Dan Mulholland said. Instead Leyla attempted to make the same turn as the truck, but hit the vehicle and was run over.
"It's just a very tragic accident all around here," said Mulholland.
The Bebans' attorney, Gary Brustin, said the family rejects the police conclusion and has launched its own probe.
"We disagree with the police findings. We are conducting our own investigation," said Brustin, whose practice specializes in bicycle cases. "And at the appropriate time and legal place we will disclose our findings."
He said the family has not filed a lawsuit and declined to make any further comment. Leyla's father, Marc Beban, referred all questions to Brustin.
Leyla's death sent a wave of sadness and mourning through the community and her 1,800-student school. Her friends, acquaintances and strangers left flowers, candles and tears at the intersection where she was killed.
In the announcement delivering news of her death to students, one teacher wrote: "Leyla Beban embodied qualities we might value in
Police say the crash happened as the driver, a 42-year-old Redwood City man who has not been named, and Leyla were both headed east on Jefferson Avenue around 8:30 a.m. Nov. 26. The truck was driving in front of her and a witness saw the driver click on his right turn signal as he approached southbound Alameda, Mulholland said.
Leyla was also planning to turn right onto Alameda, which has a designated bike lane and leads toward Woodside High School.
As the driver slowed to turn, Leyla -- who wore a helmet -- continued to ride alongside the truck's rear end and also began to turn. But she wound up stuck in a shrinking space between the curb and the GMC, finally colliding with the truck's rear passenger side.
According to Mullholland, Leyla should have slowed down, and allowed the truck to turn before she did. Instead, she chose to turn at the same time, he said.
As a result, police didn't find any evidence of wrongdoing significant enough to recommend the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office file criminal charges, Mulholland said.
While the emotional response to Leyla's death was centered at the crash site, it continued online. Leyla's former school, the Nueva School in Hillsborough, posted her May 2012 eighth-grade graduation speech. It describes a walk on a trail that winds across the wooded Nueva campus.
"You look down at the soft yellow leaves one more time, knowing it will probably be your last," Leyla wrote. "And you smile sadly because, while you will be sad to leave, you know this sight will stay in your memory forever."
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.