Captain Steve Biakanja of San Jose Fire Station 16 had his worst nightmare come to life when he learned that he had lost his 14-year-old twin daughters Leigh and Lucy, and 12-year-old son Ben in a car crash on Highway 156 in Hollister.
Among the fatalities was also the mother of the children and Biakanja’s ex-wife Lisa Biakanja.
According to the report by the California Highway Patrol, the four of them were traveling in a 2014 model Tesla on the eastbound Highway 156 when for reasons unknown, their vehicle veered into oncoming traffic and crashed into a tractor-trailer.
There is currently an investigation into why Tesla veered into oncoming traffic. Biakanja’s current wife, Thaun told the news that the Tesla the family was traveling in, did not have the Tesla auto-pilot feature.
The Carmel Unified School District stated that all three children were enrolled in Carmel Middle School and before that attended Tularcitos Elementary School.
Superintendent for the school district, Ted Knight said to the media, “Coming back, the second week of school to this news this morning was certainly very tragic and was hard for a lot of staff and students to hear.”
“Some students did need to go home. Some students are in our wellness center talking to mental health professionals. Others might have just needed a little quiet time,” Knight added.
Station 16 has set up a GoFundMe page for Captain Biakanja. The description for the page says, the funds will be used to cover, children’s funeral costs, as well as counseling, meals, and other forms of support for Biakanja and his wife Thaun.
“At San Jose Fire, each member of the team is considered family, and in times of need, a family must stand together. Captain Biakanja has stood guard for his community for years, living out the department’s creed of, “For the Kids,” in service to his people. In his time of need, we ask for your assistance for his kids. With your help, we can do our best to ease the burden of this tragedy and to honor the memory of his beloved children,” the description further said.
The description mentioned the children and their interests in life. Leigh Biakanja was a Sea Cadet who loved science and enjoyed playing softball. Her twin sister Lucy was an avid lover of animals; she raised her own chickens and doves. Their baby brother, 12-year-old brother Ben was very interested in the Second World War and leaves his behind his collection of World War II memorabilia.