Recent pedestrian and traffic collision deaths cause for concern in San Jose

Two people were killed, and a third injured in San Jose's latest deadly collision involving a vehicle.

San Jose police said the crash happened around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday near Almaden Expressway & Foxworthy Avenue. Investigators said the trio that was struck was not in the crosswalk, and did not have the right of way.

"That is a factor in this collision. Obviously it is not a good idea to cross busy streets, at night, outside of a crosswalk," said Sgt. Christian Camarillo, a San Jose Police Dept. spokesman.

Two male victims from Tuesday’s collision were pronounced dead at an area hospital. The third person, a woman, suffered non-life threatening injuries.

The loss of life marks the sixth and seventh time in the new year that someone has died due to a collision with a vehicle. Last year, that mark wasn’t reached until March.

"The beginning of 2022 is higher than the beginning of years we’ve seen recently," said Jesse Mintz-Roth, manager of the San Jose Vision Zero initiative, a non-profit dedicated to eliminating fatal collisions.

He and other experts within the San Jose Department of Transportation said this is in line with national statistics that show an 18% increase in fatal pedestrian-vehicle collisions dating back to 2020.

"We have been looking at the data in all the most recent years. But particularly during the pandemic, it’s been a different trend related to previous years," said Mintz-Roth.

He said the number of fatal pedestrian-vehicle collisions in San Jose was down before the COVID pandemic, and just before shelter-in-place protocols were lifted. But the numbers increased sharply in late summer and autumn of 2021.

"I think part of the reason it’s happening is because drivers have a very distracted environment," said Dr. Anurag Pande, a Cal Poly civil engineer, and a consultant with the Mineta Transportation Institute. 

There were a total of 60 fatal collisions in San Jose in ‘21, including the case of Hillary Lopez.

The 35-year-old was hit and killed on Senter Road Dec. 16. Lynn Nguyen, 71, is accused of hitting the young woman and leaving the scene. She was eventually caught, and is charged with Lopez’ death.

"She was the nicest person. She was do empathetic. She could really feel your feelings," David Martinez, Lopez’ husband, told KTVU Dec. 23.

City experts said the burden falls on drivers and pedestrians to be as safe as possible, whether driving, walking, or cycling on area roads.

"We’re working with a consultant  to do some surveys studying benchmarking and we’ll be releasing a campaign later this year," said Lam Cruz, division manager of the city’s traffic safety group.

The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner has not released the identities of the two people who were hit and killed Tuesday night.

The driver from that collision was also hospitalized, but is cooperating, and police said drugs or alcohol did not play a role in this case.