SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Friends say Robinder Singh Bhurji was an effervescent personality that lit up his neighborhood and community.
“He was a very dependable person. A dependable friend. A dependable community person,” said Gurinder Singh, a long-time friend of Bhurji.
Bhurji was born and raised in Northern India, and began a decades-long love affair with his teenage sweetheart, Haru. The pair married, then immigrated to America where they lived the American dream. Two kids and a career, but his job as a facilities manager for a tech firm told just part of his story. Friends say “Robin” was an artist, entrepreneur, and volunteer San Jose firefighter..
“We have this function called Duwali, which is our festival of lights. And they wouldn’t let us light candles unless we had fire marshals. So Robin became a volunteer firefighter,” said Rani Yadav-Ranjan, a friend of Bhurji’s for the past 20 years.
Tragically, the 57 year old was killed Monday morning by a hit-and-run driver, as he walked on Almaden Expressway near Cloverhill Drive, just stone’s throw from his house.
“Then four other cars ran over the pedestrian,” San Jose police sergeant Enrique Garcia said Monday. Added Singh, “It’s very hard for us to believe that he’s not here anymore.”
Last Thursday, January 28, 59-year-old Margaret Ureueta was hit and killed as she walked in a crosswalk four blocks from city hall. All told, there have been three fatal hit-and-run collisions since the first of the year. And now some city leaders are vowing to take action.
“Certainly there is a lot of speeding going on, on Almaden Expressway,” said San Jose 10th district city councilman Johnny Khamis.
He says he’ll petition the county to use Prop-B tax funds, passed in 2016, to make safety improvements on the 50-mile per hour roadway..
“Making some permanent fencing along the median, so that people don’t get tempted to make shortcuts (across the roadway),” said Khamis.
Khamis’ meeting won’t come for several weeks, too late to prevent the latest loss of life. This week, part of the Sikh community will gather, to say goodbye to what many call a beacon of kindness an increasingly cruel world.
“He had touched so many lives,” said Yadav-Ranjan.
Friends say a memorial celebration is planned for 3pm to 5pm on Saturday, February 2, at the Sikh Temple in San Jose. A candlelight vigil is planned after the service.