Family of retired VTA employee killed by bus last month to seek damages

SAN JOSE (BCN) Early evidence suggests that none of the cameras on a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority bus were functioning on the day that it hit and killed a retired VTA employee in San Jose last month, a lawyer representing the victim's family alleged today.

Police and VTA officials declined to comment on the allegation by Steve Brewer, who with Omar Habbas is jointly representing the family of 60-year-old Benny Cheung, of Milpitas.

Why the line 66 bus, which traveled from Dixon Road in Milpitas through downtown San Jose to Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, would have been allowed to operate on March 23 without working surveillance cameras is "extremely hard to understand," Brewer said.

Blood and tissue were found on the right rear wheels and side of the bus, but police have not released test results conclusively linking the bus to Cheung's death.

"I would certainly expect that they would have preliminary results very quickly on the blood and tissue matches," Brewer said. "The circumstances of this are all very odd."

Police and the VTA did not issue a comment on the blood test results or any other part of the investigation.

"We are working diligently on this investigation and will provide details once they become available," San Jose police Officer Albert Morales said in a statement.

The VTA board honored Cheung in February for his 37 years of service as a light-rail dispatcher, spokeswoman Linh Hoang said.

Police believe Cheung was hit after getting off of a bus at North First Street and Hawthorne Way when he was hit around 7:50 p.m. on March 23, Hoang said.

Police then responded to a report of a man lying in the roadway and found Cheung unconscious and not breathing with serious injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A statement released by police at 9:35 p.m. that night announced the fatality but said the cause of death was unknown. VTA did not publicly acknowledge the incident until March 28.

Brewer described Cheung as "a marvelous man" with "hundreds of friends, thousands of friends and acquaintances" but declined to state how much compensation he and Habbas would seek for the Cheung family.