High-Speed Robbery, Side Shows And A Crash Death: Cold Case In California Leaves Police Stumped

Photo: Photo By Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Photo: Photo By Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Diamond Ki’iLani Kamehaiku Sysco was a life-long car enthusiast who died on the side of a California interstate after armed assailants stole the keys to her van, leaving her stranded in the center median of I-880. Her death has confounded investigators and close family alike as a strange tale involving side shows, sign theft and highway robbery has emerged.

This story of car enthusiasm gone wrong comes to us via the East Bay Times. Sysco died on I-880 just before the Dixon Landing Road exit on January 12, 2023. She was hit by a Prius that swerved on to the shoulder to avoid her disabled van sitting in the left lane. That part of her death is not a mystery. How she came to be standing on the side of the road after a highway robbery however, is a much stranger tale. It all starts with the theft of one of those neon green, child-shaped “children at play” signs, and only gets weirder from there. From the East Bay Times:

Archana Kannan kept the lime green plastic silhouette of a crossing guard in front of her house so her two children could safely cross Lemonwood Street to play with the neighbors. When she noticed it missing one winter morning last year, she was baffled. A brand new child safety sign costs about $30 at Home Depot. Steal it? Really? Who would bother? She complained to her neighbor but chalked it up to youthful hijinx – until a detective knocked on her door.

A 20-year-old woman named Diamond and her boyfriend Alex had stolen the sign around 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2023, and thrown it into the back of their van.

Suddenly, someone in a black sedan was chasing them down Interstate 880. The driver pulled in front of them, slammed on the brakes and forced them to a stop in the fast lane. He jumped out and demanded the green plastic sign at gunpoint.

He also stole their keys, leaving them stranded in the middle of the dark freeway.

Standing in the median, Diamond was calling 911 for help when a Toyota Prius, swerving to avoid the van, struck her from behind. The impact sent her flying out of her checkered sneakers.

Diamond Ki’iLani Kamehaiku Sysco died where she landed.

Kannan couldn’t believe that this little sign meant to protect children could lead to such a horrible tragedy.

“I mean, why would they get mad at anybody for stealing my sign?” Kannan later told the Bay Area News Group. “It makes no sense.”


Sysco and her boyfriend were on their way to pick up a used Nissan 350Z when they stopped to allegedly take the sign and were chased down. Her mother, a fellow car enthusiast, thought the pair were engaging in innocent actives, like car meets and wrenching. Instead, Sysco’s secret life began to emerge as her distraught family dug deeper for answers. What they found was a deep dive into the darker side of loving cars in California.

Before her death, Sysco told her mother over the phone that she knew who had run them down and stolen their van’s keys. Who could it be? A potential person of interest — who later even inquired about buying Sysco’s Ford Mustang Cobra clone — seems to be in their sights, but so far no arrests have been made.

The little green sign that kicked off the event was never returned to its owner, and the case is no closer to being solved. Was it an act of vigilantism gone wrong? Payback for a side show-related insult? You can read about the entire event over on East Bay Times.

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