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Teacher gets fifth graders to share about classmate who was killed

Boy was killed after car struck him on Monday afternoon.


CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - 10-year-old Jaafar Sbeb was killed Monday at the intersection of Northeast 162nd Avenue and Burnside Street when he reportedly walked into traffic and was struck by a car.The Glenfair Elementary School teacher of a 10-year-old boy who was struck by a car and killed Monday afternoon in an accident on Burnside Street got her students talking in class about Jaafar Shbeb.

“I asked my students what they wanted to say," said Lori Geyer, Jaafar's fifth-grade teacher. "One student reported that what he respected most about Jaafar is that he worked hard in the classroom and followed the rules and then when he got outside he was outgoing and fun.

"He was always kind and would always say yes if you asked him to play," Geyer added. "He loved soccer and tag and laughing. If you combine every one of his characteristics, he was a great kid. He was too young, too funny and too inspiring to die.”

Jaafar, who was six weeks shy of his 11th birthday, was walking south on Northeast 162nd Avenue with his sister and a friend at 4:15 p.m. on Monday, March 29. The group stopped in the middle of Burnside Street, in the crosswalk portion of the eastbound MAX light-rail platform.

The traffic light was red, as was the crosswalk sign, when Jaafar started to cross the southern portion of the road. Investigators believe Jaafar was not paying attention to the traffic when he stepped into the roadway and was struck by a 2008 Nissan Rogue going eastbound.

The driver, Deanna Kurtzbein, 59, of Gresham, had no time to stop or alter her path before hitting Shbeb, police said.

Kurtzbein remained at the scene and cooperated fully with the investigation. The crash was ruled an accident, and Kurtzbein is not facing arrest or citation.

Jaafar was fifth grader at Glenfair Elementary in the Reynolds School District.

The district has extra counselors on site at multiple schools to help friends and schoolmates of Shbeb process the tragedy.

Glenfair has a therapy dog at the school, and teachers will talk to students about traffic safety as part of the healing process. Shbeb, who attended Wilkes before Glenfair, has a cousin at Wilkes Elementary School.

Kurtzbein is also an employee of the Reynolds School District. Andrea Watson, director of communications for the district, said Kurtzbein is the head secretary at Four Corners school. The school provides a therapeutic setting for students needing special education services. Earlier, Kurtzbein worked at Reynolds High School. She also lives in the district and her children attended Reynolds schools.

"We are working on materials to send home with the children," Watson said. The materials discuss signs of grief or distress, how parents can support their children and where to find help.

Jessica Smrkovsky, lead administrator at Four Corners, said she did not know when Kurtzbein would be returning to work.

"Deanna has devoted her entire career to working with students, and in particular the last few years with students with special needs. She is the first face they see when they walk in the door and the last they see when they go home," Smrkovsky said. "She's wonderful at what she does and I can't imagine somebody would take a tragedy like this harder than she will."