Tim Whyte | Reflecting on Another Life Lost Too Soon

Tim Whyte
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I didn’t know Mayleigh Beaver. But I think of her every time I drive to work. And every time I drive home.

There’s a spot on that drive. It’s an intersection and stretch of road that I’ve always worried about a little.

I’m no road engineer, but way back when, I wish whoever designed that intersection and the connecting bridge had done it a little differently. When you’re coming down Copper Hill Drive, and you cross over McBean Parkway, just as you get to the bridge over the San Francisquito Creek, there’s a kink.

I’ve always thought, if you’re not paying attention, or going a little too fast, and you don’t crank the wheel to the right just so, it would be terribly easy to end up in oncoming traffic — a recipe for a head-on collision. 

If I’ve hit the green light at McBean, I’ve often wished it was more of a straight shot through the intersection to the bridge as I’m making that pull to the right to navigate the kink.

It’s a tricky spot of roadway, even if you’re not speeding. And it’s where Mayleigh Beaver lost her life one week ago. Except instead of ending up in oncoming traffic, on a dark, foggy morning, she missed that kink but on the opposite side of the one that has always worried me, her car plunging through a guardrail to the right of the bridge and plummeting into the creek bed below.

We tried to tell the community a little about this young woman who died too soon. One of our reporters went to the scene of the crash and spoke with a young man who had previously dated her, and he tearfully spoke of what a kind, caring soul he had found her to be.

I didn’t know Mayleigh Beaver. I don’t know her family. But I know they are hurting, immensely, and I know from social media posts that they did not appreciate the media coverage of the crash that took her life.

We have a job to do. Sometimes it means we get to shine a light on people having the best moments of their lives.

And sometimes, the worst.

So I get it. It must feel so… violating.

Mayleigh’s death came at the beginning of what would prove to be, if we’re being honest, a pretty awful week in the Santa Clarita Valley. A half-dozen overdoses, apparently fentanyl, one of them fatal, all in one Saugus neighborhood. 

Another young person — a 21-year-old man — found dead in a Valencia park, next door to an elementary school, a shotgun by his side.

We’re losing too many young people here, whether it’s drugs, suicide or, as appears to be the case in Mayleigh Beaver’s death, just an awful accident on a piece of road with no margin for error.

I think about all the people who are hurting over Mayleigh’s loss every time I pass that spot on my way to work, and on my way home. 

I see the flowers and balloons, the makeshift roadside memorial, the kind that all too often marks the spot where a young life ended much, much sooner than it should have.

The night before last, as I drove past that spot on my way home from work, there were four cars parked there. And in the shadows I saw the outlines of more than a half-dozen people, a couple of them with their arms locked in an embrace, facing down into that creek bed on a cold, dark night.

I didn’t know Mayleigh Beaver. But I know she was just 21, the exact same age as my own daughter who I love so much. 

I know she had an 11-month-old child. I know her death has caused a great deal of pain, and if you need proof of that all you need to do is look at that makeshift roadside memorial, where so many have gone in the past week to just be close to where she was in that moment before she was taken away too soon.

A couple of days ago, I saw on the NextDoor app that a close friend of Mayleigh’s family was seeking donations of not just funds to help with funeral expenses and the care of Mayleigh’s baby, but also goods to help her family members care for the child — baby toys, clothes and so forth. 

I know someone in the media is not exactly the family’s preferred ally right now. I get that. So we’re holding off on doing a news story on that, unless we confirm the family is amenable to it.

But my heart still breaks for them, every time I drive by that spot. Twice a day or more. So if you have the NextDoor app and you see that post, please send the family a little care and support. 

They need it.

I didn’t know Mayleigh Beaver. But I know she was loved, and the people who loved her are hurting. 

May they find strength and peace. And may she rest in peace.

Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal.

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