4-year-old girl dies after bike accident near Lake Merritt

As people brought flowers and candles to a tree near Lake Merritt, hugs helped, but they couldn't erase the hurt for the family of 4-year-old Maia Correira.

"She is just a beautiful girl. Just a beautiful girl," said Hydeh Ghaffari, Maia's maternal grandmother who attended a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening near the intersection of Lakeshore Avenue and Hanover Avenue.

Her grandma says Maia loved going on bicycle rides in a child seat with her father, always buckled in and wearing a helmet. 

On Aug. 6, though, Maia and her father were out for a Sunday ride, when they were hit and thrown off their bike.

"As they were going on the bike lane, a parked car opened its door, hit the bicycle," said Ghaffari.

Maia's grandmother says they fell to the ground.

Paramedics came to check Maia, but said her vitals were fine, so the father and daughter went home. 

Ghaffari says that night Maia threw up and had a headache, so they called Kaiser's advice line. The nurse walked the parents through cognitive tests and determined the girl was fine. 

The next day, Maia ended up at Children's Hospital for emergency brain surgery.

"The blood clot had grown to the size of a hand, and had pushed her brain essentially causing a stroke," said Sheila McCracken, Maia's aunt.

Three days later, doctors told the family some bad news.

"They had confirmed that Maia was never going to wake up again. And we could keep her body alive but she would never know us. She would never be able to receive our love anymore,"

On Wednesday evening, friends, bicycle advocates and community members came to the vigil to show love and support for Maia's family.

Maia's mother was too upset to speak and her father, heartbroken, couldn't return to the spot where their daughter was hit.

Data from the City of Oakland shows there were 36 traffic fatalities in 2022 and 14 deaths so far this year. Maia's death is the 15th traffic fatality in Oakland.

"I would like to see every improvement that we have in our plan done tomorrow. That's not the reality, we're not resourced for that from a staffing standpoint or from a funding standpoint," said Fred Kelley, director of the Oakland Dept. of Transportation, which he says was formed just six years ago to address traffic issues.

"The folks at Oak DOT are good people," said George Spies, one of the vigil's organizers and an advocate with the group Traffic Violence Rapid Response. "We're just desperate for change. It has to happen faster. The mayor can help. The city council can help. Everybody can lean in and make this happen faster." 

Staff, families, and students from Maia's school also were there. Anita Lee, head of Maia's pre-school said some wore pink bicycle pins, in memory of the child she says was so loved.

"I think it's amazing. I think it's amazing...this many people and that's what I want, I mean, I want her life to have purpose," said Rick McCracken, Maia's maternal grandfather, "If it can save one of these little kids you see around here. That would be the biggest gift we could ever get. I would never want a family to go through this."

Bicycle advocates and the family are calling for the city to extend the protected bicycle lanes that were installed in 2019 on the northeast side of Lake Merritt.