Leigh Martinez and Henry Lee/KTVU - Flags flew at half staff and a somber mood remained on Monday, two days after an on-call Bay Bridge toll booth worker was killed in a freak accident when a box truck driver slammed into the booth killing the veteran cashier.
“She was the light of the bridge,” friend and toll booth worker Itala Portal said of her friend, Si Si Han, 46, the Caltrans worker who was killed Saturday morning as she was about to collect money from her booth. “I called her my China doll. Rain or shine, she always had a beautiful smile on her face. She was so beautiful.”
Other people took to Instagram to remember the mother and wife, whom they didn't know by name, but recognized from her smile.
Han was killed after a truck slammed several cars on the bridge, and then into at least three toll booths, causing severe damage to the structure where she was working. Friends said the crash occurred 10 minutes after she started her 5 a.m. shift. Her husband told KTVU that she was an "on call" worker, happy, as she was on Saturday, to step up and sub when needed.
Han was a Caltrans employee for more than 10 years. She is survived by her husband, Ryan Saw, and their 10-year-old daughter, Ashly. The family lives in San Lorenzo and shared a photo of Han. On the phone on Monday, her husband said, "She's a dedicated mother, a good wife and a good daughter to her mom."
The death prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to issue this statement: "On behalf of all Californians, we extend our condolences to her family, co-workers and friends.”
The California Highway Patrol arrested Daniel Berk, 32, of Foster City, the driver of the truck, on suspicion of driving under the influence and manslaughter.
Berk and a passenger in the box truck were also thrown from from the truck, said CHP Officer Vu Williams. Berk was seriously injured and will likely be at Highland Hospital for a week, Vu said. There was no date set yet for his arraignment. Four others suffered injuries from the collision.
On Monday, KTVU reached out to several of Berk's colleagues and family, none of whom returned messages seeking comment. Records in San Mateo County Superior Court show he was convicted of possessing methamphetamine in 2013 and possession of stolen property in 2014. Both are misdemeanors.
The truck had been rented from Monarch Truck Center in San Jose, and was full of audio and lighting equipment. According to Berk's LinkedIn, he was a lighting and stage tech engineer, who attended the College of San Mateo and Skyline College. A colleague also confirmed to KTVU that Berk was a member of The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, where a debate was raging over his alleged behavior. His driving record is clean, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Crews worked over the weekend to repair the severe damage made to the toll booth. All but one – No. 14, adjacent to the booth where Han had been working – were open on Monday.
Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said it was a "rough weekend" for everyone at the state agency. "You just don't recover from this right away," he said. "We're going to be hurting for a while."
KTVU's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.