In a weekend crash in Walnut Creek that killed two teens and seriously injured three others, the California Highway Patrol said Monday underage drinking is to blame.
The mother of one of the victims said her 17-year-old son tried to take the keys away from the 18-year-old driver, but the driver would not give them up. That grief-stricken mother also said she’s forgiven the driver.
The two teens who died in the crash where the vehicle plunged off a freeway connector ramp to a street about 40 feet below were both 2018 graduates of Deer Valley High School in Antioch and were bound for college. One of those victims was going to turn 18 on Sunday, and now his family is preparing for his funeral.
"I’m going to miss my best friend, I’m going to miss my son," said Kimberlea Oloruntoba, mother of 17-year-old Dakarai.
In Swahili, the boy's name means happiness. But with her son now gone, it’s hard for Oloruntoba to find Dakarai in everyday life.
"We’re grieving not just two kids lost their life," she said. "Five kids' lives are changed forever!"
Dakarai and his 18-year-old friend John Hamed Walizada were killed early Sunday when the car they were in careened off a Highway 24 connector ramp to Interstate 680 in Walnut Creek. The three other teens in the car were rushed to John Muir Hospital for serious injuries. The CHP suspects the 18-year-old driver, Ramya Ramey of Antioch, was under the influence of alcohol.
"She was an honor student; they graduated together. We took pictures of them," Oloruntoba said.
She said the teens went out to an 18 and older club named City Nights in San Francisco. Dakarai had texted his twin brother before the group headed back home, saying he had tried to get the car keys from Ramya, but she refused to hand them over.
"You gotta wake up and be told that, at the risk of your decision, your two friends are no longer here," Oloruntoba said. "You can’t drink and drive! Give the keys up. Pull over! Uber! Call your parents!"
The family says they will hold a birthday celebration for Dakarai on Sunday, and they're working with Deer Valley High to hold a vigil on Sunday.