Police / Fire

Minor accepts plea deal in accident that killed Hollister woman

Driver in the death of pedestrian Devan Elayda left the scene of an accident involving death or serious injury, a felony offense.
Devan Nicole Elayda. Photo courtesy of Fresno County Sheriff's Office.
Devan Nicole Elayda. Photo courtesy of Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

The driver of the car that killed Hollister resident Devan Nicole Elayda on Nov. 27, 2021, accepted a plea deal Oct. 4 on a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving death or serious injury. The driver is a minor.

Elayda, 23, was a senior in criminology studies at Fresno State University. She was the owner of her own clothing brand and a rising TikTok star. In a letter to students, Dean of Students for the Criminology Department Carolyn Coon wrote, “Our hearts are with Devan’s family and friends and our Fresno State community who are feeling the loss from this tragic accident.”

The male, a 16-year-old at the time of the accident, driving without a license, left the scene after striking Elayda, who was walking near the center divider, the California Highway Patrol said. After taking a plea deal he received a sentence of 60 days in a juvenile facility and a year of probation. 

A statement from the family and given to BenitoLink through their attorney, Zoi Jones, said in part: “It’s been 1 year since the accident, we are still devastated and miss our sweet, amazing Devan who was so full of life, love, and laughter.”

It continued, “With the holidays upon us, we want to stress to young people how dangerous pulling over on a freeway is under any circumstance especially at night and to beg them to rely on professional services, taxis, Ubers/Lyfts or parents for ride. If Devan had taken an Uber home, she would be here with us now. If Devan’s death helps save others, we know she would want that.”

According to the CHP report, Elayda was traveling on State Route 180 as a passenger when she got into a verbal argument with the driver. Police said the vehicle stopped within the asphalt center divider and Elayda exited the vehicle.  

“For an unknown reason she continued walking in a southerly direction into the middle of the #1 lane, in the direct path of the Lexus,” the report said, adding she was wearing dark clothes and would have been hard to see. The report also said the driver was likely aware Elayda had sustained major injuries and required immediate medical aid as a result of this collision.

Police determined the minor’s car was involved based on evidence such as blood, Elayda’s shoe and damage to the vehicle.

 

Related BenitoLink articles:

CHP has two people of interest in Hollister resident’s traffic death | BenitoLink

 

 

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Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.