Sadness pervaded Woodside High School Tuesday as students and teachers remembered Leyla Beban, a 14-year-old Redwood City freshman who died in a bicycle accident involving a collision with a vehicle around 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning, Nov. 26, at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Alameda de las Pulgas.
Students were wearing blue, Leyla's favorite color, in her memory, Principal Diane Burbank told the Almanac.
Burbank said she learned of the accident on Monday but refrained from making the news public at school until after she had spoken with Leyla's family. She spoke over the public address system Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.
"Listening to any news over a PA system can seem removed and easily ignored, and more often, you hear announcements over this PA about dance tickets or testing," Burbank told the school, according to a copy of her remarks obtained by the Almanac. "But today's announcement is different. I have sad news to share. Please don't ignore my voice or the news. I first want you to know that your teachers will spend time following my message to help you."
"It was a horrible accident," Burbank said in her remarks. "We are so sorry for Leyla's family." Leyla, she added in the interview, was described by one teacher as "open minded, kind, articulate, intellectually curious, and competent yet humble."
The school established a temporary "grief room" where students and teachers could go to express and talk about their feelings, Burbank told the Almanac. To help students in that endeavor, the school had 12 counselors on the campus Tuesday -- six from the Palo Alto-based Adolescent Counseling Service and six Woodside High employees, Burbank said.
"It's always tough," Burbank said. "Kids have to be OK about being sad. Everybody's at a different spot."
If the school is to arrange an organized memorial in the near future, it will occur after Leyla's family has gone through its own grief and ceremonies, Burbank said. "We really want to respect the family. The family gets to go first. We need to very much respect their wishes and their timeline," she said.
Medics had taken Leyla to Stanford Hospital, where she died on Monday, Nov. 26, according to Redwood City police.
The cause of the accident is under investigation, police said. The driver of the vehicle involved stayed on the scene and was cooperative, police said. Redwood City police have not yet responded to an interview request.
Witnesses are being asked to contact Officer Peter Cang at 780-7100 ext. 5021, or Detective Dave Cirina at 780-7607.