'Hero' Volunteer Crossing Guard Dies After Protecting Kids From Oncoming SUV

A volunteer crossing guard in Lafayette, California, succumbed to fatal injuries after he was struck by an SUV on Wednesday, according to a report. Later identified as 45-year-old Ashley Dias, the man was reportedly hit after narrowly pushing children to safety.

The tragic incident serves as a stark reminder of the harms roadside collisions can inflict on individuals, families, and communities. According to the World Health Organization, each year globally, "the lives of approximately 1.3 million people are cut short as a result of a road traffic crash." The majority of these fatalities "are among vulnerable road users" including "pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists."

Dias took on the role of a volunteer crossing guard at the middle school he had once attended, Stanley Middle School, as a way to give back to his community. He had been filling in for another crossing guard at the time of the accident, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

The incident occurred at around 3 p.m. on Wednesday when an SUV hit him and one child, who suffered minor injuries. As Dias' family told the news outlet, he had pushed a group of children out of the vehicle's path before being struck.

The Contra Costa Sheriff's Office released a statement on their Facebook page, elaborating on the events that followed: "One person was reported to be trapped under a vehicle. Lafayette police officers, who were assisted by citizens, were able to pull an unresponsive person out from under the vehicle."

Dias received CPR at the scene and was transported to a hospital. His injuries, however, were fatal.

According to ABC7, the driver of the SUV was the grandmother of a Stanley Middle School student. The child was also in the car at the time of the accident. The son of the unnamed driver reportedly told the news outlet that their family "[is] so incredibly sorry and devastated by this unthinkably horrible accident."

Meanwhile, Dias' family is reeling from the loss of their beloved brother and son.

"It is unbelievable, just this morning we spoke to him, in the afternoon we spoke to him before he went at 2 o'clock for the crossing," said Dias' father, Fabio, to the news outlet. "He was a great son. It's devastating."

Meanwhile, a Stanley parent who witnessed the crash reached out to Dias' mom, Gloria, reported the Chronicle. "He is a hero and put his life on the line to save a student," wrote the parent to Dias in a text. "He should definitely be remembered."

Newsweek reached out to the Lafayette Police Department for further comment—however, a spokesperson for the department noted that they currently "don't have any updates or information outside the scope of the press release."

They added: "We are hard at work gathering as much information as we can."

Crossing Guard
A crossing guard holding a stop sign for parents and students in Monterey Park, California. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images