San Jose sees 'unprecedented' number of traffic fatalities

Early Tuesday morning police in San Jose cleared wreckage from the city's latest accident to claim another life.

"This street is cursed. So if ya’all out here on San Tomas and Payne (avenues) drive safe. Because anything can happen at any moment," said resident Jonathan Alonzo.

Investigators said around 1:15a.m., a woman riding a motorcycle southbound on San Tomas Expressway hit the curb, then median before crashing to the ground at the intersection of Payne Avenue. She died a short-time later at an area hospital.

"It’s early in the morning. A lot of different things could have happened. We don’t want to make any assumptions. We’ll wait for the investigators to get back to us," said San Jose Police Department spokesman Sgt. Christian Camarillo.

The crash marks the 14th fatal traffic accident, and 15th victim killed so far this year. This includes two men hit and killed in January as they crossed Almaden Expressway outside a crosswalk.

Also killed in an unrelated incident was Travis Repman, who died days after being hit in a crosswalk.

"My brother was, he was a good person," his sister, Erin Repman said on Feb. 1.

Reflecting on the recent incidents where there’s been a loss of life, San Jose Transportation Department spokesman Colin Haney said, "We see this as unprecedented and tragic…Speed and speeding is the number one identifiable factor behind these collisions."

Haney said San Jose is following a national trend of increased fatal accidents since COVID restrictions have subsided.

While speed is one factor, distracted drivers, and the overall design of the roadway are areas for change.

"(We need to) retrofit these streets through a variety of infrastructure improvements to calm traffic. To make it less likely that if someone gets into a crash, that they’ll die," said Haney.

San Jose police said enforcement also plays a role, although that effort has been hurt by staffing shortages, and the impacts from a global pandemic.

"I was born and raised in San Jose. I knew there were certain streets you don’t speed down because there’s a motorcycle officer out there and that’s been severely reduced," said Camarillo.

Officials hope the start of daylight saving time on Mar. 13 will mean more sunlight later in the day, aiding drivers and pedestrians in their ability to see potential dangers.

The Santa Clara County medical examiner will release the identity of the woman who died Tuesday once her family is notified.