Beloved Marin County teacher killed after being hit by alleged DUI driver while bicycling

WOODACRE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Dixie School community in San Rafael is very small. There was no hiding the news of the tragic death of one of the school's favorite teachers, Debra DiBenedetto.

Alison Morris is a parent. She had with her a picture of her son and the 63-year-old teacher.

"She loved nature and hiking and she loved the creek and doing restoration work with the kids and gardening, so it's a very sad day for everybody."

Investigators say DiBenedetto was riding her bicycle on Sir. Francis Drake Boulevard near Railroad Avenue in Woodacre.

Officer Andrew Barclay, a CHP Spokesperson, said, "The cyclist was riding west in the right shoulder. At some point, a 2006 Explorer that was also traveling west drifted toward the right-hand shoulder and struck here there. "

The driver of that Explorer, 24-year-old Paula Drake of Fairfax, was apparently under the influence of alcohol. She was arrested but later released by police.

The school district's counselor came to the school to help the kids process the news.

Dixie School District Superintendent, Jason Yamashiro, said, "Communication has been pretty direct with both the families and the kids about her death, that she died, that she was in an accident and that we're here to support them."

California Highway Patrol Officers were told by witnesses that DiBenedetto was not wearing a helmet.

We ran into these retired San Francisco firefighters who get together twice a week to cycle. They say these days distracted drivers are their main concern.

"We just saw a guy right around the corner, he went halfway through a red light and had to slam on the brakes because obviously he wasn't paying attention and we were right next to him," said Mike Belcher, cyclist.
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