SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) – A Marin County school is mourning the loss of a popular teacher who was killed by a suspected drunk driver while riding her bicycle Monday night.
Second grade teacher Debra DiBenedetto, who taught at Dixie Elementary School in San Rafael for over 20 years, died after a car hit her along Sir Francis Drake Blvd. near Fairfax around 5:30 p.m. DiBenedetto was pronounced dead at Marin General Hospital.
“She was a fabulous teacher, she loved nature, always took kids to the creek to do restoration,” Alison Morris, a Dixie School parent, told KPIX 5. “It’s a huge loss, she was a very strong, amazing teacher. It’s a horrible tragedy that has affected our entire community.”
Morris’ son Logan had Miss D — as her students called her — just last year. She was known for her outdoor classroom and love of the environment.
DiBenedetto was a wife, mother and brand new grandmother to her family. For staff at the school, she was a mentor, leader and friend.
“She was passionate about teaching. She was passionate about kids. She was passionate about nature,” Dixie School District Superintendent Dr. Jason Yamashiro.
Counselors were on hand for teachers and students. Many parents came to the school to help out in classrooms Monday or just bring flowers in tribute to Miss D.
Authorities have arrested 24-year-old Paula Drake of Fairfax on suspicion of felony DUI causing death and gross vehicular manslaughter.
Drake was being held in Marin County Jail on $500,000 bail.
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