12-year old cyclist dies after being hit by alleged drunk driver

On Friday, April 22nd, 12-year old Shantrel Kailyn Williams was riding her bike on the sidewalk in front of her home on west Arbutus Street in Compton when she rode out a few feet into the street to turn around.

A few seconds later, the honor student at Long Beach’s Tincher Preparatory Academy lay in a crumpled heap on street, the victim of an alleged drunk driver.

According to her mother, she wasn’t wearing her helmet — even though state law requires helmets for riders under 18 — because Kailyn thought it was ugly, and her mother believed riding on the sidewalk in front of the house would be safe.

Despite surviving emergency brain surgery, doctors made it clear from the beginning that she wasn’t survive long, and that a difficult decision would have to made.

Last Sunday, after over a week in a medically induced coma, Kailyn was taken off life support and died later that night.

According to KCBC-2, 60-year old Thomas Abraham Long was arrested at the scene for driving under the influence; at last report he was still being held on $100,000 bond.

Her mother offers advice for other parents — and all bike riders:

I would tell everyone you need a helmet because you may control what you do, but you can’t control what someone else do.

This marks the 27th cycling death in Southern California this year, and ninth in L.A. County since the first of the year.

My heartfelt prayers and sympathy to Kailyn’s family and friends. Thanks to Allan Alessio for the heads-up.


  1. Ross Hirsch says:

    So help the first person that chimes in to blame the victim for not strapping a piece of foam to her head. Flesh, blood, and bones, whether or not there is some styrofoam strapped on top, is no match for 2000 lbs of steel and alcohol. Sad.

    • bikinginla says:

      I like to think my readers know better that to assume a little foam hat performs miracles against a car, though I do wish she’d been wearing one; at 25 mph, this may have been survivable. But we’ll never know if it could have made a difference.

      Thankfully, aside from the usual racist rants against Mexicans — odd, since the driver was African American — the overwhelming majority of comments I’ve seen have been supportive of Kailyn and her family.

    • Aljinee says:

      thank you…my point exactly

    • Destinie Gipson says:

      This was my best friend I hate the fact that she is gone . RIP Kailyn !!!!!!!<3 you may be gone but never forgotten !!!!!!!!!!!!! <3

  2. Just… a big sigh. I keep hoping that people will learn. But no. And then I read in the Times this morning about the 6 year old girl in South LA (pedestrian) killed by a hit and run driver.

  3. A Parent says:

    1. over 94% of bicyclists that are killed each year were not wearing a helmet.
    2. if you get behind the wheel after drinking, you are putting your life the the lives of others in harms way.
    3. 25mph in residential areas is just way too fast for cars to be driving, especially if there are cars parked along the street blocking your view.
    A very tragic life lesson for everyone to learn from.

  4. […] hit and run incidents in SoCal this year – we’ve got the death of Jim Swarzman , the death of a 12 year old girl in Compton,  the serious injury to Adam Rybicki, hit head-on by an alleged underage drunk driver last […]

  5. Aljinee says:

    Thank you to all the positive comments…as her sister i just say thank you!

    And yes 25 is fast but the investigators seem to think that it was her fault. need i mention we live behind a middle school as well as elementary!

    • bikinginla says:

      Aljinee, I’m so sorry for your loss. This story is simply heartbreaking; my hear and prayers go out to you and your family.

      Don’t take the conclusions of the investigators as the last word. While police do their best to reach a fair conclusion in assigning blame, they don’t always get it right. And a sober driver might have been able to stop or swerve in time to avoid your sister.

      If you haven’t already, I would strongly urge you to talk to a lawyer — not because you should sue, but just to make sure your interests are protected, regardless of what the police investigators conclude. You can find some good, caring attorneys with experience in bike cases in the column on the right.

%d bloggers like this: