Fundraiser for injured Newport Beach crossing guard reaches $14K

Kathy Japes on a police motorcycle.
Kathy Japes on a police motorcycle during Eastbluff Elementary School’s Red Ribbon week. Japes was injured in a traffic accident on Feb. 13.
(Courtesy of Carol Crane)

Catherine Little was on her way to drop off her two boys at Eastbluff Elementary School when she first heard the sirens heading toward the campus on Vista Del Oro.

By the time she got there, emergency personnel were already on the scene redirecting traffic. Little said she hadn’t seen the accident but put together what happened from what she heard from other parents.

The incident occurred near the intersection of Vista del Oro and Vista Roma at around 8:15 a.m. on Feb. 13. A teenage driver had struck a crossing guard, later identified as Kathy Japes through a GoFundMe drive that Little and other parents organized a day after the accident.


Japes was transported to a local hospital, with a broken hip, pelvis, shoulder, elbow, concussion and a bruised lung, according to the GoFundMe page.

Newport Beach Police Sgt. Steve Oberon confirmed Friday that the teen driver remained on the scene following the accident and was cooperative with authorities.

Little said the GoFundMe came together after parents, including herself, agreed to help Japes, who she described as exceptionally vigilant. The fundraiser started with a small goal of $1,000, Little said, with the intention of that money going toward any extra medical bills or necessities.

“I shared the fundraiser with several people and they sent it out to their friends at the school and before I knew it within about an hour, it was already at the $1,000. So, I raised it to $4,500, then it passed that and then GoFundMe seemed to have raised it to $6,000. I never touched it again after it was put at $6,000,” said Little. “It kept going up and up and I believe it was shared outside of our Eastbluff community.

“You had the mayor donating and people who were just touched by the story. It’s a heartwarming story too. People want to help. People want to do something nice, and I think why Kathy received so much love is because she stops and chats with these kids. She gets to know them. She isn’t just a person holding a sign and telling people stop and go. She gets to know these kids and knows their names.”

As of Friday afternoon, the GoFundMe reached $14,803.

Comments on the page wish Japes well with many chiming in with comments about the kindness that Japes has expressed toward their children.

Stephanie Hopkins, whose two children, Wyland and Maddie, attend Eastbluff, described Japes as special and someone who took her job very seriously. Hopkins said there have been numerous times where she’s seen Japes go out of her way to make the kids feel special. Last Christmas, Japes stopped Hopkins when she was leaving the campus to hand over presents for Wyland and Maddie for the holidays.

“It was those big gummy bear candies. She goes out of her way to do little, thoughtful things that makes the kids feel so special. I’m so hurt and sad about what’s been going on and I hope she’s OK and she’s healing,” said Hopkins. “The kids are constantly asking if she’s getting better.”

Maddie, 9, said she was really worried about Japes and that she wanted her to keep smiling. Wyland, 6, said Japes made him happy. She often gave him toy cars when she saw him as well as the big Baby Yoda gummy she gave him last Christmas.

When asked by a reporter what he would tell Japes if he could see her, Wyland replied, “Feel better soon.”

“I miss her,” he added.

The tiles from the former Ruby’s at the end of the Huntington Beach Pier, painted by local artist Melissa Murals, go on sale online on Friday morning.

Feb. 22, 2024

Jessica Bibb said Japes often jokingly called Bibb’s son, Danny, Dennis the Menace because of his bright personality and his blond hair.

“It was his half-birthday on Dec. 19 and Danny was so excited to tell her,” Bibb said. “When we got to school the next day, she has this big gift wrapped up for him. She’s like, ‘Happy birthday, Danny,’ and I was dying. As a mom, you’re like, ‘What did you tell her, Danny?’ and he said that he told her it was his half-birthday, but she thought it was his real birthday. It was this really nice gift. It was a Super Mario monopoly board that he’d been wanting. She brings little gifts for the kids almost every day.”

Danny said he remembers the pajamas that Japes wore on Pajama Day because he thought they were cute and said he wanted her to know that she was kind.

Edrie Dalisay described Japes as talkative and friendly, but also that she was great with his son, Evander, who is on the autism spectrum. He said she’s helping him become more independent and coaches him before, during and after crossing.

“She’s always looking out for him and making sure he’s OK. I know it’s not just him; but especially with him, she’ll get him things that he likes. He has a very strict diet, but every week or so she’ll get him organic fruits that he likes,” Dalisay said. “It’s the little things. There’s been instances where ... [Evander] usually takes a while to get ready for school, so we’ll be strolling in 10 to 15 minutes later.

“There’ll be instances where she’s pretty much done, but she’ll wait for us to make sure he gets across the street safely.”

Little said the fundraiser will be ongoing. As for why there’s been such a big response to Japes’ story, she said she thinks it could be because of the “old-fashioned small community” feeling that Japes has provided on Eastbluff.

“Everyone’s always in a rush. We’re always on our phones. The world feels like a bit of a colder, crueler place. It’s a rough world we’re living in right now and to have ... someone who cares about you and takes the time to stop and say hello and reaches out on more of a personal level while doing that job; it makes you feel good,” Little said. “She’s special to them because she cares and she takes the time to interact with these kids and gets to know the parents. That’s special today, I think, in this world where people are so tuned out and in their own little bubbles.”