LAFAYETTE (KPIX) -- A growing memorial outside a Lafayette middle school is paying tribute to a crossing guard who was struck and killed by an SUV Wednesday afternoon, but not before his actions saved a child's life.
Flowers and notes decorated the spot where 45-year-old Ashley Dias was fatally struck. His mother, Gloria Dias, confirmed his identity to KPIX 5's Andrea Nakano Wednesday night.
The incident happened at about 3 p.m. outside Stanley Middle School at 3455 School Street. According to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, the two victims were hit by an SUV.
There was also an extra police presence at the school Thursday as officers took over monitoring traffic as school crossing guards.
"This man saved another student's life. There's no doubt about that or it appears there is no doubt about that," said Sherrie Foley, a school aid who was tending to the flowers.
Dias was filling in for another guard Wednesday afternoon.
Witnesses told KPIX the SUV was headed for a group of students when Dias reportedly pushed one child out of the SUV's path but was dragged under the vehicle.
He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Another student was also hospitalized and is recovering from the injuries they sustained.
"I met one of the fathers in the hospital and he said, 'Your son saved my daughter's life. He says he stopped but he walked in front to stop the car and the car just knocked him over and dragged him underneath," Gloria Dias told KPIX.
The SUV driver stopped and cooperated with police. Thursday afternoon, Lafayette police officers acted as additional crossing guards on the streets in front of the school.
"It can be very dangerous. You're taking a chance, but you love your children,
and that's your job," said Miss Dana. She was working as a school crossing guard in Antioch when she was run over by a drunk driver in 2012.
She came to pay her respects to the victim and speak out in support of crossing guards.
"We need to make sure we're protecting our school area. Signs need to be up, zoning needs to be up. It's heartbreaking. I'm very heartbroken to hear something like this," Dana said.
Lafayette Mayor Susan Candell issued a statement of condolences earlier Thursday, noting in it that Dias had grown up in her city.
"On behalf of the City of Lafayette, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to Mr. Dias's family. What happened is a true tragedy in every way. We will need to mourn and heal together as a community, and support all of the families who were involved," the statement read in part.
for more features.