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Monday, July 8, 2024

Black School Principal From NJ Killed in Crash With Her Son While Visiting South Africa

Principal Daniela Small-Bailey and son, Sidanii Bell

Nationwide — A tragic car accident in South Africa claimed the lives of an elementary school principal from Bergen County, New Jersey and her adult son, along with a police officer and another woman over the holiday weekend, officials reported.

Dr. Daniela Small-Bailey, 57, and her 35-year-old son, Sidanii Bell, from Orange, New Jersey, were involved in a fatal head-on collision on July 4th in Dullstroom, South Africa, according to a statement from Englewood Public Schools.

Small-Bailey had been leading Dr. John Grieco Elementary School since October 2013. Amy Lupardi, an instructional coach, described her as a pivotal figure within the Englewood Public Schools community, dedicating almost twenty years to improving the district.

Authorities indicated that Small-Bailey and Bell had journeyed from New Jersey to South Africa to visit Bell’s two children who reside there. The collision, involving a marked police vehicle and a double-cab truck, occurred on the R540 Road between Dullstroom and Belfast at approximately 4:20 p.m.

A 45-year-old police officer also died instantly at the scene. Small-Bailey, Bell, and another female passenger in their vehicle were transported to a nearby hospital, where the women were pronounced dead shortly after arrival. Bell succumbed to his injuries on Friday, according to South African police reports. Bell’s social media profile described him as a digital marketing specialist and a mixed-martial arts boxer.

“This incident is a significant loss, and our hearts go out to the families of those who have passed,” stated Major General Zeph Mkhwanazi, the acting provincial commissioner of the police service. The cause of the accident is still under investigation, Mkhwanazi noted.

Starting her career with Englewood Public Schools as an assistant principal in September 2004, Small-Bailey became known for her dynamic and enthusiastic approach to school leadership. Her LinkedIn profile highlights nearly 11 years as principal, marked by her energetic and determined personality. Lupardi commended her unique talent for connecting with students and motivating others to achieve their potential.

The school district plans to announce funeral arrangements once details are finalized and has requested that the public respect the family’s privacy during this time. Grief counseling services will be available to students and staff members who need support during this difficult period.