DUBLIN — Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil and wrote condolences and prayers on social media this week to pay tribute to Dublin Unified School District (DUSD) Trustee Catherine Kuo, who was struck and killed by a car while distributing food outside at Fallon Middle School.

Kuo, a 48-year-old wife and mother of a son and daughter, died March 24 at Eden Memorial Medical Center in Castro Valley, where she was taken following the morning accident.

“We would like to honor one of our local super heroes in the hopes that remembering her — what she cared about and what she lived for — will help us all to become in some small measure, local superheroes in our families, neighborhoods and beyond to keep her memory alive as we live out her dreams for a better future,” her family wrote in tribute on the site, gatheringus.com.

Although Dublin police are continuing to investigate why the female driver of a BMW in the food line accelerated and struck Kuo, the preliminary findings indicated it was a terrible accident, police said.

Police did not release the driver’s identity, but said she is a Dublin resident with children in the schools.

“She’s devastated and fully cooperating,” Dublin police Capt. Nate Schmidt said. “It’s just a really freak accident and a horrible and tragic event.”

Kuo, who was elected to her Area 3 seat in November 2019, was loading bags of food into the line of cars pulling into the distribution line behind the campus at 3601 Kohnen Way when the accident occurred. Schmidt said Kuo was putting groceries into a Tesla’s open trunk when the next driver in line drove into her, pinning her between the cars.

Why the driver accelerated and slammed into Kuo is unclear. Police are investigating whether she confused the gas pedal and the brake; was distracted by her cell phone or something else; or could not see in the sun, Schmidt said. The California Highway Patrol will examine the BMW to determine if a malfunction occurred. Schmidt said the specialized investigation will look to see whether the car has a “black box” that keeps data on the vehicle’s movements.

Schmidt said alcohol and drugs did not play a role, and there was no reason to believe the driver had any intent to strike Kuo.

“She is beside herself,” Schmidt said.

Hours after learning Kuo had died, DUSD Interim Superintendent Daniel Moirao broke the news to the community in an emailed statement.

“What I must share with you is almost beyond comprehension,” Moirao said. “I’m struggling with the reality of what has transpired. This is a tragedy beyond words.”

Kuo emphasized her volunteer work in her children’s elementary and middle schools when she ran for the school board seat that opened when trustee Dan Cunningham resigned. During her campaign, she promised to ensure the completion of the community’s second comprehensive high school, make sure limited funds were effectively distributed to benefit all of the district’s students, and focus on school safety procedures.

Kuo received 76% of the vote in the special election to defeat Malcolm Norrington, a vice principal at Foothill High School in Pleasanton.

“Catherine had a lightness about her, a comforting manner that helped people feel at ease,” Moirao said. “She was friendly, nurturing, kind and generous. We were lucky to have known her and will miss her more than words can express.”

Kuo’s death prompted immediate expressions of sympathy on social media.

“So, so heartbreaking,” Catharine Baker, a Dublin resident who serves on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, wrote on Facebook. “She was such a good person, dedicated parent and thoughtful community leader working for the good of our families. Just heartbreaking. Praying for her family and our community.”

Through Monday, a GoFundMe account (http://bit.ly/Indy_KuoFund) had raised more than $91,000 to assist Kuo’s husband, William and children, Thomas and Natalie.

“She was friendly, nurturing and generous,” Fremont Unified School District teacher Kerrie Maddock Chabot wrote on the site. “We are lucky to have known her and will miss her so much.”

Parent Joyce Yee, among those visiting and placing flowers outside a makeshift memorial at Fallon school, called what happened “unreal.”

“She was here doing what she does – serving the community,” Yee said.

Following her election to the board, Kuo made her presence felt the night she was sworn in, casting the deciding votes to give the board presidency to east-sider Dan Cherrier and retain west-sider Megan Rouse as vice president.

Kuo said she hoped her votes were a way to “get a new perspective for the board” with Cherrier as the new president, while keeping Rouse’s experience.

Kuo was active on social media in the days before her death, expressing joy at the restart of school and anger over growing attacks against Asians across the country.

On March 19, Kuo wrote that it was wonderful “seeing our little kinder students line up for in-person school!”

“I know the last month has been really hard, for many reasons, and not everything was perfect, but to see these beautiful children, so excited, smiling, a little nervous, but so happy was a joy,” Kuo said. “Thank you so much to our site staff, principals and teachers, as well as all the staff behind the scenes who worked hard to welcome our kids back into their classrooms.”

A day later, Kuo said she was “so honored” to join fellow Tri-Valley Asian American Pacific Islander elected officials and leaders in issuing a statement against attacks against their community.

Tuesday, in her last post, she shared a prayer by a writer calling for an end to anti-Asian violence.

“This is really it,” Kuo wrote. “We are speaking out to protect our elderly and our women.”

At the vigil and throughout the community, hundreds expressed their admiration for Kuo.

The Valley Humane Society wrote on Facebook that Kuo and her family of self-proclaimed “cat lovers” fostered several litters and solitary kittens in their home.

“Despite a busy schedule and family life, Catherine and her husband recognized a need and sought to meet it, turning their past experience of fostering into a family affair,” read the post. “We will miss Catherine, an amazing person and a fantastic foster volunteer. Our hearts go out to the Kuo family.”

At the vigil, mourners held up candles and held a moment of silence, calling her a “super hero,” just as her family did.

“What does it take to be a real superhero? It takes someone who’s not afraid to touch the untouchable, to love the unlovable, and to fight for the losing cause even if she’s the only one standing for it, until good wins in the end,” her family wrote. “It takes someone who can be counted on to do the right thing, even without the super suit, and ultimately, it takes someone who is willing to lay their life down for their friends.”

A cancer survivor, Kuo was the daughter of immigrant parents from South Korea “who taught her to work hard and smart, to never stop learning, and to always hold onto faith, hope and love.” Her family called her the “life of a party.”

“We also think she left this earth like a true superhero: out like a flash, and on to a much better place — place where she is probably tirelessly campaigning for all of us here, whether in person or online so that the best will be done in our lives on earth and into forever,” the family wrote.

Kuo’s survivors include her husband, William; son, Thomas; and daughter, Natalie.

Kuo made her presence felt the night she was sworn in, casting the deciding votes to give the board presidency to east-sider Dan Cherrier and retain west-sider Megan Rouse as vice president.

Kuo said she hoped her votes were a way to “get a new perspective for the board” with Cherrier as the new president, while keeping Rouse’s experience.

Dublin police Capt. Nate Schmidt said the cause of the crash was under investigation, but alcohol and drugs did not appear to play a role. Police did not identify the driver.

“Dublin Police Services sends its deepest condolences to Mrs. Kuo’s family, friends and colleagues who have been impacted by this tragic accident,” Schmidt said.

Kuo’s death prompted immediate expressions of sympathy on social media.

“So, so heartbreaking,” Catharine Baker, a Dublin resident who serves on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, wrote on Facebook. “She was such a good person, dedicated parent and thoughtful community leader working for the good of our families. Just heartbreaking. Praying for her family and our community.”

On March 19, Kuo wrote on Facebook that it was wonderful “seeing our little kinder students line up for in-person school!”

“I know the last month has been really hard, for many reasons and not everything was perfect, but to see these beautiful children, so excited, smiling, a little nervous, but so happy was a joy,” Kuo said. “Thank you so much to our site staff, principals and teachers as well as all the staff behind the scenes who worked hard to welcome our kids back into their classrooms.”

On Monday, Kuo said she was “so honored” to join fellow Tri-Valley Asian-American Pacific Islander elected officials and leaders in issuing a statement against growing attacks against the community.

Tuesday, in her last post, she shared a prayer by a writer calling for an end to anti-Asian violence.

“This is really it,” Kuo wrote. “We are speaking out to protect our elderly and our women.”