Widow wants answers from VTA about husband's death: 2 Investigates

It’s been two months since 60-year-old Benny Cheung’s body was found in downtown San Jose. The victim’s wife, Mary Cheung, spoke exclusively with 2 Investigates Thursday saying she has questions for her late husband’s former employer, which operated the bus that apparently killed him.

On March 23, 2017, Cheung’s body was found on North First Street and Hawthorne Way. Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) did not release any information about the accident publicly. But a leaked internal VTA memo first reported by The Mercury News said, “Mr. Cheung had just de-boarded the VTA bus involved in the tragic incident.”

An autopsy report obtained by 2 Investigates shows Cheung’s blood was found on the bus. Three months prior to his death, he had retired from VTA after working at the agency for nearly 40 years, most recently as a light rail dispatcher.

“[Officials] found blood on the bus immediately…VTA never contacted me at all. They never sent condolences. Nobody called me,” said widow Mary Cheung. “I’ve been kept in the dark. I don’t know anything. I need to know why and what happened.”

WATCH FIRST REPORT: Recent death prompts 2 Investigates to look closer at VTA bus safety

Mary said on the night of the accident, she didn’t get a call from police or VTA, but rather received a knock on her door.

“He said he was from the Coroner’s office. They told me they think it’s my husband,” she said.

The day after the accident Mary said she went to the scene herself. With her boss, she tried to track down surveillance video. She said a Sheriff’s deputy told her that investigators were informed all the cameras on the bus involved were not working.

“I’m surprised all the cameras are not working when they should have been. What [is VTA] going to do about it and why,” she said, fighting back tears. “I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

Days and weeks went by and Mary said she still was never contacted by the South Bay transit agency. She later learned of that leaked internal VTA memo alerting staff of her husband’s death and counseling resources.

“Kind of funny. They never offer any condolences or grief counseling [to me], never said anything to me. Kind of really a joke right?” she said.

On Wednesday, 2 Investigates reported on other incidents involving VTA buses and pedestrians. According to VTA, since 2013, there have been 66 incident involving their buses and pedestrians, which includes skateboarders, bikers, and passengers de-boarding. Of those, 22 people have been injured, and three people have died.

Last year VTA settled a multimillion dollar case with a Sunnyvale couple after a bus ran over them shortly after they de-boarded from the vehicle’s rear door.

When asked if the public should be made aware of these types of accidents involving VTA buses, Mary said, “Yes. Why not? They should. Why should [VTA] keep it down? Why don’t they want people to know? Shouldn’t everybody know?”

When asked about the case, the cameras on the bus, and why they haven’t reached out to Mary Cheung, a VTA spokesperson responded Thursday, “The police investigation remains ongoing; please direct your inquiries to San Jose Police. Furthermore, VTA does not comment on potential or pending litigation.”

San Jose police told 2 Investigates, “We will not be releasing any additional information on this case. Detectives are still conducting their investigation and when completed they will review with the District Attorney’s Office.”

Meanwhile, Mary Cheung says she believes these public agencies are keeping her in the dark. 

Written by Investigative Reporter Candice Nguyen

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