SAN JOSE, Calif. - Ten people were killed in car accidents during the first month of 2022, San Jose police said, with the most recent death occurring after a man died of injuries sustained after he was struck by an oncoming van.
Police are searching for the driver of a van that hit and killed a pedestrian as he walked in a crosswalk.
Investigators said on Jan. 23, Travis Repman was crossing The Alameda at Newhall Street, when he was hit by a van traveling south. The victim wound up in the parking lot of that gas station.
"My brother was, I’m sorry...he was a good person," said his sister, Erin Repman. "We did everything together, when we were kids."
She said she was connected at the hip and soul to her big brother of 14 months. As a toddler, when Travis Repman went to school, she cried, from separation anxiety.
The 37-year-old’s life ended Jan. 28, due to injuries from the hit-and-run collision.
"Right now we’re looking for witnesses. We don’t have a lot of information in this hit-and-run," said Sgt. Christian Camarillo, a spokesman for the San Jose Police Dept.
San Jose police detectives said Repman was walking across The Alameda around 4:40 a.m. Erin said he lived in Santa Clara, near the area, and didn’t drive, but usually walked.
Police said the driver of a white van, perhaps a transit van, hit him in the crosswalk, near well-known Bill’s Café, a breakfast restaurant.
"The crosswalk is fairly dangerous at nighttime. Cars turning left-bound, going on the Alameda towards the highway, just don’t see the people in the middle of the night. Something’s just, there’s been a few accidents here before," said George Zafiris, owner of Bill’s Café.
A witness told detectives the driver pulled over briefly, then left the scene. Repman was rushed to a local hospital, but died five-days later from his injuries.
"We were able to see him and say our goodbyes, and let him go, on Friday. So we’re hanging in there, but it’s rough," said Repman.
Repman’s death marks the 7th fatal pedestrian collision, and 9th hit-and-run in just the first month of the year.
Experts said this city and others are grappling with the same problem.
"This is a nation-wide phenomenon that we’re seeing, that there are more collisions happening. And more fatalities happening," said Dr. Anurag Pande, a civil engineering professor at California Polytechnic State Univ.
Police are hopeful witnesses can shed more light on the van which left the scene, and the person behind the wheel.
Meanwhile, Erin Repman prepares to say good bye to the protector and friend she’s known her whole life.
"My brother had all the love to give, that he could. He has two amazing kids," said Repan. "They deserve to know what happened to their dad."
Repman leaves behind a wife, a 17-year-old daughter, and a 14-year-old son.
The family has established a Gofundme page to help pay for funeral costs.
San Jose police ask anyone with information to give them a call.
Officials with the City of San Jose said a safety campaign is being prepared that will launch in 2023. Ahead of that, signage and billboards are planned reminding drivers to slow down and watch for pedestrians.
Traffic deaths across the United States began to spike in 2019, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration blamed speeding and other reckless driving behavior for the increases during the coronavirus pandemic. Before then, the number of fatalities had fallen for three straight years.
Last week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg pledged to tackle rising traffic fatalities through a national strategy aimed at reducing speed, redesigning roads and enhancing car safety features such as automatic emergency braking.
Buttigieg told The Associated Press that new federal data will show another increase in traffic fatalities through the third quarter of 2021. Those numbers are expected to point to a sizable increase in deaths compared with the same period in 2020, adding to a half-year traffic death total of 20,160 that already was the highest half-year figure since 2006.
"Somehow it has become over the years and decades as normal, sort of the cost of doing business," he said. "Even through a pandemic that led to considerably less driving, we continue to see more danger on our roads."
Buttigieg said his department is embracing a new "safe system" approach urged by auto safety advocates to bolster initiatives, underway in several cities, that seek to eliminate fatalities by taking into account more than just driver behavior.
Over the next two years, he said, his department will provide guidance as well as $5 billion in grants to states to spur lower speed limits and embrace safer road design such as dedicated bike and bus lanes, better lighting and crosswalks. When roads become safer for bicyclists and pedestrians, that opens up transit options overall and can lead to fewer dangerous cars on the road, he said.
NHTSA also plans to move forward on rule-making to require automatic emergency braking in all new passenger vehicles, set new standards on car safety performance by emphasizing features such as lane keeping assistance and require crash avoidance information on new car window stickers.
Money for the grants is included in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law, which has an additional $4 billion in funding through the Highway Safety Improvement Program.
Anyone with information on this investigation is urged to contact San Jose Police Detective Dellicarpini 408-277-4654.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.