A Tuesday night candlelight vigil is planned for the victims of an auto accident that killed two East County teens and injured four others Friday night.
The service is expected to start at 7:30 p.m. and will be held near the accident location at Lone Tree Way and Indian Hills Drive in Antioch.
Jaia Lightner, 13, of Antioch and Leana Rubin, 17, of Oakley were identified by the Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office as the two fatalities in the accident that occurred Friday, Jan. 11. Four others teens suffered injuries ranging from moderate to life-threatening. Their identities have not been released, but a press release from the Antioch Police Department (APD) did state that two 17-year-old females, a 16-year-old male and a 13-year-old female were also in the car at the time of the accident.
Rubin, believed to have been the driver, attended Independence High School in the Liberty Union High School District.
The following letter was issued by Independence Principal Guy Rognlien.
“It is with great sadness that I write this letter to inform you of the tragic loss of an Independence High School student. Our condolences and thoughts go out to the family and friends of our student. During this time, as our school community processes through this tragic news and copes with grief, we will offer support services for all of our students and staff.
“We have assembled a Crisis Intervention Team made up of professionals trained to help with the needs of students, parents, and school personnel at a difficult time such as this. Along with our school psychologist, specialists, counselor and administrators, we will have members of the Contra Costa Crisis Center team on site and available for anyone that may need or want help.
“A young person's death is always tragic, and a sudden loss like this can have profound effects on students. In the event that your student is overwhelmed by sadness at home or needs additional support, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact the Contra Costa Crisis Center Line: Dial 211 or 1-800-833-2900.
We are saddened by the loss to our school community and I know you will join me in sending our heartfelt sympathy to the family.”
Lightner was a student at Delta Vista Middle School in Oakley as was one of the other victims.
“I knew Jaia very well,” said Rusty Ehrilch, principal of Delta Vista Middle School. “She was very energetic and thoughtful young lady. The best way I remember her is her smile. It was contagious to all around her – just a wonderful young lady.”
Oakley Union Elementary School District (OUESD) Superintendent Greg Hetrick commented on the tragedy to The Press Monday morning.
“We are greatly saddened as a school district as this tragedy is having and will continue to have a profound impact on the OUESD community,” wrote OUESD Superintendent Greg Hetrick in an email to The Press. “Delta Vista administration along with district staff (are) going to be providing support for students and staff as we grieve for those involved in this terrible accident. Our hearts go out to all families affected by this tragedy.”
Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) Superintendent Stephanie Anello issued a statement on Facebook Saturday afternoon indicating that several of the victims were students in that district.
“All of the information we have at this time is preliminary and unconfirmed,” wrote Anello. “However, at this time, we do believe that at least three of the individuals in the car were AUSD students. Grief counselors have been contacted and will be on hand at the three schools the students attend...This is a truly tragic and sad event and our hearts ache for the victims, their families, and all who know and love them.”
APD stated that excessive speed on a wet roadway was the likely cause of the accident.
Police responded to the report of a single-vehicle accident at approximately 7 p.m. and found the vehicle wrapped around a tree on the south sidewalk of Lone Tree Way. One of the occupants was ejected from vehicle upon impact. The remaining five were trapped inside the wreckage and were extricated by firefighters from the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District. Two victims were transported by ground to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek and two were transported to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland. Poor weather conditions kept medical helicopters grounded and necessitated ground transportation.
Check back for additional updates.