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'Heartbreaking' | Family, friends mourn 17-year-old, hit and killed by driver, while walking to school

Lesly Diaz-Bonilla's father said the Justice High School student wanted to be a nurse once she graduated from school.

BAILEY'S CROSSROADS, Va. — A high school student died after a driver crashed into her while she was walking in the crosswalk Wednesday, according to Fairfax County police.

The fatal crash happened on Columbia Pike and Tyler Street, near Barcroft View Apartments, in Fairfax County just before 9 a.m. Witnesses say Lesly Diaz-Bonilla, 17, of Fairfax County, attempted to cross Columbia Pike from the east when a driver in a grey Toyota Camry hit her.

"Unfortunately, a car just came by real fast and hit the girl and she went flying in the air," witness Leslie Guardia said. "The girl had crossed the street from the other side and was getting ready to cross. She was already in the middle of the barrier when she crossed and the car just hit her, didn't see her."

Emergency crews took Diaz-Bonilla to the hospital in critical condition, where she later died of her injuries.

Police say the driver remained at the scene for questioning. Lt. Daniel Spital said the investigation is too early to determine if the driver will face charges. "It's really a heartbreaking case that is honestly difficult to talk about," Spital said.

Diaz-Bonilla’s family said she attended Justice High School, which is about half-mile away from their home.

“Any loss of a staff member, student, or their loved one, deeply impacts our entire FCPS family," a Fairfax County Public Schools reads. "We will always offer counseling and support to our community during these difficult times. Above all else, we respect the privacy of those who are grieving.”

Her father, Fermin Diaz Argueta, said Lesly wanted to become a nurse. She had just turned 17 on Thursday.

“My wife and I are destroyed,” he said through a translator. “There are no words that will help us.”

Diaz Argueta said something must be done to fix the intersection.

“Take care of your children because this is painful,” he said. “I gave my daughter all the love. That's how life is. Parents be careful. Drivers should be more cautious because they took my daughter's life and next time it could be someone else's child.

Diaz-Bonilla's put together a GoFundMe following her death.

Fairfax police acknowledged the intersection is dangerous. Authorities said the speed limit at the site is 35-miles-per-hour. "We are asking for motorists to please maintain that speed limit or even a little bit slower,” an officer said. “Please look around, especially when we are going through crosswalks."

Police said there will be additional traffic and motor units to provide additional enforcement and visibility.

Neighbors, like Jihad Aljariri, said the community has raised concerns about the same crosswalk for years.

In 2018, a mother and daughter were injured in a hit-and-run at the same location.

"Very often we have accidents here with people flying here and don't give people a chance to cross," Aljariri said. "There's always accidents here and I don't know when the government can take action and protect the people living here."

He wants more signage and a traffic light to slow down drivers.

Sonya Breehey serves as a board member for Fairfax Families for Safe Streets. She said other people have been killed at the same intersection too.

"This particular intersection has seen a fatality previously and unfortunately we're that again today," Breehey said.

She calls the latest death devastating.

"We continue to advocate to make our streets safe and it's just heartbreaking when you learn about these events, you know this girl was walking to school, I have a 17-year-old in high school and it scares me," Breehey said. "I don't want any family to experience this."

Breehey said she would like to see the speed limit lowered around the intersection.

“Pedestrians need the traffic to stop for them,” she said. “They need the drivers to be going slower so that they can see that there is somebody in a crosswalk and have time to stop and that’s what the slower speeds offer.”

Fairfax police said they are working with the Virginia Department of Transportation to determine if changes need to be made at the intersection.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Penny Gross said the intersection was under recommendation for the unfunded projects list with a proposal for three signals to be placed in a two-block area. The proposal is expected to be reviewed at a December 6 board meeting.

Gross said she's seen a lot of work done on the corridor in her 27 years in office, including improved lighting in the area and upgrades to the sidewalk.

The Virginia DMV’s Traffic Records Electronic Data System shows there have been at least 143 drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians killed in Northern Virginia, so far, this year. There were 125 fatalities through this same time last year. 

Those numbers include data from Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church City, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Manassas Park, Arlington, Fairfax County, King George, Loudoun, Pr. William, Spotsylvania, and Stafford.

On Sunday, people across the DC region will participate in World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. The day is set aside to remember people who have been killed by drivers across the globe, while also pushing leaders to prioritize having safer streets in their communities.

Several related events are slated to take place in Northern Virginia:

Alexandria FSS • World Day of Remembrance in Alexandria 

  • When: 11:30 am to 12:15 pm on Sunday, Nov 20th
  • Where: William Ramsey Elementary parking lot
  • Why: The WDoR is an international annual event to remember the millions of people killed and injured in traffic crashes around the world. In the case of Beauregard and Sanger, a 16-year-old male was killed while riding a scooter.

Arlington FSS • World Day of Remembrance plans in Arlington 

  • When: 3 pm on Sunday, Nov 20th
  • Where: Nottingham Elementary parking lot off of Little Falls Road
  • Why: The WDoR is an international annual event to remember the millions of people killed and injured in traffic crashes around the world. In the case of Little Falls Road – Ms. Hayes, an 85 year old woman, was crashed into and killed by a driver of a car while in a crosswalk • This is the third pedestrian fatality in 5 years in the Little Falls Road / Williamsburg neighborhood

Fairfax FSS • World Day of Remembrance plans in Fairfax 

  • When: 1:30 pm on Sunday, Nov 20th
  • Where: Oakton High School, 2900 Sutton Rd, Vienna, VA 22181
  • Why: The WDoR is an international annual event to remember the millions of people killed and injured in traffic crashes around the world. In the case of the Blake Lane area an event at Oakton High School will focus on the tragedies our local communities throughout Fairfax County have endured this year, which have resulted in the deaths of 21 pedestrians and serious injuries to many more vulnerable road users. Out of the 21 fatalities to date, two freshman girls were killed on Blake Lane as they were walking home from the Oakton High School.

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