It was the second of the three fatal crashes in Livermore between Dec. 21 and 22.
Earlier on Dec. 21, Livermore resident Christine Boyle died at a nearby hospital hours after being hit by a gravel truck while trying to ride across an intersection on her bicycle on Stanley Boulevard that morning.
And the next evening, Stockton school teacher Julie Ownbey died in a solo-vehicle rollover along North Livermore Avenue outside the city limits.
The crashes have left family, friends and colleagues mourning during the holiday season -- and the three incidents occurring in seemingly rapid succession rocked the Livermore Valley.
Three teens killed
Brar's family said on social media that the 18-year-old was driving his cousin Kumar and friend Ericksen home after picking up the pair after their shift ended at a local Baskin-Robbins ice cream store on the night of Dec. 21.
The collision happened around 10:30 p.m. when a semi-truck driver turned into a business driveway in the 5600 block of Las Positas Road but left the trailer stopped blocking the roadway. The eastbound passenger vehicle carrying the three teens then struck the big-rig, according to Livermore police Sgt. Steve Goard.
Two of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene while the third occupant succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital, according to Goard.
Speed and impairment are not considered to be factors at this point, but the investigation is still pending and police have not made a final determination about the cause and probable factors, Goard said. The name of the truck driver has not yet been released publicly.
Ericksen was a junior at Livermore High School, Kumar attended Del Valle Continuation High School, and Brar was an alumnus of Vineyard Alternative High School.
A roadside memorial has been put up in recent days with flowers, balloons, handwritten messages and other items of remembrance at the crash site in eastern Livermore to honor the two high school juniors and recent high school alumnus.
"At this time of year when we take time to celebrate, appreciate and cherish our family and friendships, it is particularly somber that we instead acknowledge such a devastating loss to our schools and community," Superintendent Kelly Bowers, of the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District, said in a statement to the school community last week.
"As always, during periods of crisis, the LVJUSD and our entire Livermore community will pull together. We have built a strong network of support at Livermore, Del Valle and Vineyard High Schools. I know we will come together during this time to bolster and comfort one another. We are mobilizing our district crisis team to provide grief and trauma counseling to students, faculty, and support staff," Bowers continued, adding:
"Let's keep their families in our minds and hearts, as they have suffered such an unimaginable and heartbreaking loss. Our community's strength and sheer love will help them through."
Investigators continue to actively search for information, and anyone who witnessed the crash or has relevant details about the case can contact Sgt. Justin Lash at Livermore PD, 925-371-4857.
Brar's family has started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for funeral and related costs for all three teenagers, vowing to split the money equally among the families. It had generated just over $29,000 as of Monday afternoon.
The situation left the Tri-Valley reeling as the loss of three students in one night during the holiday season was all too familiar -- eerily reminiscent of a similar tragedy that occurred in Pleasanton on Christmas Night the previous year.
It was around 10 p.m. on Dec. 25, 2019, when a car carrying five Dublin teens lost control and crashed into a power pole and then a large tree alongside Foothill Road. Dublin High students Javier Ramirez and twin brothers Mark Anthony Urista and Michael Angelo Urista (all 16 years old) died at the scene.
(Note: When confirming the Livermore victims' identities this week, the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau said Brar's first name was officially listed as Rahal -- though family and other sources said his first name was Rahul.)
Truck strikes cyclist
On the morning of Dec. 21, Boyle was riding along Stanley Boulevard when she collided with a gravel truck that was making a right-hand turn at an intersection. The Livermore resident sustained serious injuries, and died at the hospital hours later.
Boyle, 63, was a mother and retired phone company worker who loved the outdoors and her daily bike rides, according to family.
"Just a tragedy," Barbara Clibbens, Boyle's niece, told the Weekly on Monday.
"She was a good person, just a wonderful person," Clibbens said of her aunt. "She loved her son, Colin. Family was everything to her ... She loved to do photography. She loved to ride her bicycle. She loved being outdoors. She loved exploring. She was a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan."
Livermore police are still working to locate the truck driver, who left the scene, according to Goard.
The sergeant said the collision occurred just after 8 a.m. Dec. 21 along eastbound Stanley Boulevard within the Livermore city limits.
A gravel truck with trailer was making a right turn toward the Isabel Avenue/Highway 84 connector, when at the same time, Boyle was riding off the sidewalk to cross straight at the intersection within the crosswalk. A final determination about who was at fault is still pending as the investigation continues, Goard said.
Clibbens said a witness told the family that Boyle attempted to avoid a serious collision by pushing off the truck but she fell and was run over by the tires. Boyle was treated at the scene and transported to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, where she died that afternoon.
"She held on; she tried to fight as long as she could," Clibbens said. "She fought with everything she had for (her son)."
The niece said the family was especially grateful for the support provided by bystander Jessica Benavidez, who stayed with Boyle at the scene until first responders arrived.
Livermore police are continuing to investigate the crash and locate potential witnesses to interview. Investigators are also still working to identify the trucker, who drove away from the scene without stopping, and "it is unclear if the driver was aware of the collision or not," Goard said.
Clibbens implored the truck driver to come forward. "If it was just a horrible accident and he didn't know, that's OK; we understand," she said. "But if he left for another reason ... we want to know."
Boyle, who was one of 11 children, grew up in Mount Washington in Pittsburgh, Penn. She moved to California in her early 20s and worked for years at Pacific Bell -- and its subsequent companies after mergers -- taking trouble calls from technicians in the field until retiring, according to Clibbens.
She is survived by her adult son Colin, whom she loved deeply and cared for as he lived with autism, according to Clibbens.
Teacher dies in rollover
On the evening of Dec. 22, Ownbey was driving on North Livermore Avenue when she lost control for unknown reasons and was thrown out of the sedan as it rolled end-over-end into a nearby field, according to the California Highway Patrol. The 52-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her LinkedIn profile confirmed Ownbey worked as a fourth-grade teacher in the Manteca Unified School District.
"We are deeply saddened by the death of one of our beloved teachers from August Knodt Elementary School," Manteca Superintendent Clark Burke said in a statement to media the next morning.
"The elementary school staff, students and entire school community are deeply saddened by this news. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with the family during this difficult time," August Knodt principal Jillian Friend added.
The MUSD statement did not identify Ownbey by name for privacy reasons. But Ownbey had been listed as a teacher at August Knodt Jr. School, a K-8 school in the Weston Ranch area of Stockton served by Manteca Unified.
"We encourage families to be especially sensitive and prepared to offer support to their children during this time. District Health Services staff and Valley Community Counseling are available to offer support for students and staff," MUSD officials said.
Excessive speed and the lack of a seatbelt were key factors in the fatal crash, according to Officer Tyler Hahn of the CHP-Dublin office.
The situation unfolded at approximately 5:25 p.m. Dec. 22 after the driver of a 2006 Lexus ES 330 -- later identified as Ownbey -- traveling at a high rate of speed southbound on North Livermore Avenue, south of Hartman Road, failed to negotiate a right-hand curve in the road, according to Hahn.
Out of control, the Lexus went across the northbound lanes, off the roadway and into a barbed-wire fence. "After colliding with the fence, the vehicle began to overturn and cartwheeled into the field to the east of the roadway," eventually coming to rest on its roof about 50 feet away from the road, according to Hahn.
Ownbey, who was unrestrained in the sedan, was ejected and landed in the field as the vehicle flipped over and over. She was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Hahn.
CHP officials identified the driver as from Stockton, but the coroner's bureau said Ownbey's residence was listed in Antioch.
Anyone who may have witnessed the crash or has other relevant details can contact CHP-Dublin at 925-828-0466 and ask for Hahn.
"This is a sad reminder that excessive speed combined with not wearing your seatbelt can be deadly," the officer said. "It is also a reason why we, as law enforcement, are out enforcing traffic violations that cause deadly collisions. As we enter the holiday season, please, as always, don't drink and drive, slow down and wear your seatbelt."
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