Arroyo Valley Junior Dies of Injuries From Accident

From Staff Reports

Dashanay Smith-Wortham, a junior at Arroyo Valley High in San Bernardino, died Sunday of head injuries suffered in a traffic accident involving players from the girls’ basketball team. She was 17.

JaNiece Allen, a physical education teacher at Arroyo Valley and its varsity coach, was placed on administrative leave and relieved of her coaching position, district officials said.

The San Bernardino County district attorney’s office will determine if any charges will be filed against Allen.


According to San Bernardino Police Det. Tom Bielaszka, 10 team members joined Allen and an unidentified adult Friday after the team’s home victory over Apple Valley Granite Hills.

At about 2 a.m., the 15-person van stopped at the intersection of Marshall Boulevard and Mountain View Avenue, and at least nine players exited the van. Three then re-entered the rear baggage area, which was less than 12 inches deep.

Two of those got out of the van a second time, while Smith-Wortham remained with one or both feet dangling out the back. Bielaszka said witnesses reported the van then slowly accelerated and Smith-Wortham fell out, hitting her head either on the bumper, the pavement or both.

“There was no report of any heavy acceleration or jerking of the vehicle,” Bielaszka said. “It’s definitely a very tragic accident.”

Allen, who rented the van, called 911 at 2:08 a.m. Though not part of a sanctioned activity by the school, at least one source said the group was participating in a sleepover at Allen’s house.

Smith-Wortham, active in several school programs including student government, choir and softball, remained in a coma throughout the weekend. She was pronounced dead Sunday afternoon.


Crisis counselors attended Arroyo Valley on Monday and Tuesday. Students at Arroyo Valley, a second-year school of 2,450 freshmen, sophomores and juniors, raised more than $1,800 to provide help with funeral expenses. More fund-raisers are planned today. A memorial is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday at the school.

The team, which is 7-7, has a home game tonight against San Bernardino Cajon in a San Andreas League opener.

-- Martin Henderson

The Corona del Mar girls’ water polo team hopes home-pool advantage will give it the edge today when it plays host to Santa Ana Foothill in a nonleague game at Corona del Mar High at 4 p.m.

The Sea Kings (7-1), ranked second in the region by The Times, suffered their only loss of the season two weeks ago against top-ranked Foothill (8-0) in a semifinal at the Corona del Mar/Newport Harbor Holiday Cup. That game was played at Newport Harbor High.

“This is our territory,” said Corona del Mar senior Brittany Bowlus. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t beat them here.”

Bowlus said the Sea Kings have studied tapes of their 10-7 loss to Foothill and found several areas that need improvement.


“We realized on counter defense we left some people open and they scored,” Bowlus said. “On offense we need to be more patient. Whenever we rushed, we missed the shot.”

-- Dan Arritt

The boys’ and girls’ 2,000-meter steeplechase and hammer throw will be held for the first time in the high school portion of the Mt. San Antonio College Relays in Walnut this year.

The steeplechase and hammer throw are not contested in the state championships. But interest in those events has grown, according to Tim O’Rourke, the director of high school events for the Mt. SAC Relays.

The hammer-throw competitions will be held the afternoon of April 17 and the steeplechase races will be contested that evening in conjunction with the invitational distance carnival that features world- and national-class runners.

Most of the high school competition will be held April 18.

John Ortega