Mother of Oakton High School student killed in traffic accident speaks out

The driver, Usman Shahid, faces up to four years in prison.

OAKTON, Virginia – Just weeks before a judge decides the sentence for a man convicted of killing two Oakton High School students, the mother of one of the victims is speaking out.

Young Jean Lee lost her 15-year-old daughter Leeyan Yan in a serious accident in June 2022. Leeyan Yan and another friend were on their way from Oakton High School along Blake Lane when a car veered off the road and struck and killed them.

The driver, Usman Shahid, who was 18 at the time, was traveling 81 miles in a 35 mph speed zone when he crashed into another vehicle turning left at the intersection. Another student was nearby and narrowly avoided the collision.

A jury found Shahid guilty of two counts of manslaughter. The same jury recommended a four-year prison sentence, although prosecutors had asked for a maximum of 10 years for each sentence.

On July 19, a judge will announce the final sentence. He could reduce the sentence, but it cannot exceed four years.

“We are all disappointed and very upset,” Lee told WUSA9. “We lost our daughter. Now I have no hope and no joy.”

Lee described her daughter as having a bright spirit who welcomed everyone.

“She was funny,” Lee said. “She was a funny character.”

Despite the conviction, the family is unhappy with the jury’s verdict recommendation at the end of April. Lee started an online petition expressing his displeasure with the Fairfax County District Attorney’s Office.

She felt there was information that could have been presented to the jury during the trial, including social media posts Shahid made after the incident. Lee believes this reflected that he showed no remorse despite causing the scene. She felt this could have helped the jury obtain a harsher verdict.

“I respected their (jury’s) opinion, but people need to see this kind of evidence,” Lee added.

Family and friends held a rally last Friday to express the same sentiment.

There has been no official comment from the prosecution, but in a statement after the verdict, U.S. Attorney Steve Descano said: “While there is nothing that can make up for such a great loss, I hope this conviction can help our community finally come to terms with this tragedy.”

The trial lasted just over a week and a half and focused on the extent of the police investigation and the role of the other driver who Shahid hit with his car.

The prosecution argued that Shahid should have known better.

“Nobody has suggested that he intended to kill those two girls,” Assistant District Attorney Jenna Sands said in her closing argument. “He made choices. He chose to drive fast and not hit the brakes.”

However, Shahid’s lawyer argued that there was no evidence of manslaughter. Defense attorney Peter Greenspun claims that investigators did not properly investigate and instead focused entirely on Shahid.

Greenspun blamed the incident on the driver of the SUV, who attempted to make a left turn near pedestrians. The driver – Ben Phan – knew the BMW was coming.

“All indications are that it was Phan who was pathetic,” Greenspun argued.