Hotel telephone operator, 74, pushed to death on BART platform

A 74-year-old telephone operator was fatally pushed on a BART platform this week and her nephew said that even though there is a man now charged with her death, it won't "bring her back, being angry."

Alvin Dandan told KTVU that knowing that Trevor Belmont, a 49-year-old homeless man, is facing a murder charge for pushing his aunt, Corazon Dandan, in front of the Millbrae-bound train at the Powell Street station shortly after 11 p.m. Monday, is a "bit easier to swallow." 

Belmont also goes by Hoak Taing. He was arrested by police on the station platform shortly after the attack, and was charged by the District Attorney on Wednesday. 

Corazon Dandan hit her head on the train and then fell on the platform. She later died from her injuries at a local hospital.

But Dandan doesn't want to hold on to bitterness and doesn't believe this was a hate crime, but more of a crime inspired by mental illness.

Corazon Dandan was fatally pushed in front of a BART train. Photo: family 

Dandan said concerned family members had repeatedly told his aunt it was dangerous to ride BART at night. 

But she was "independent and brave," he said, and had traveled around the world with various people she had just met.

In fact, this had been his aunt's daily route of commuting for more than 30 years. 

On the night she was killed, Dandan said his aunt was on her way home to Daly City, from her job at the Hilton-owned Parc 55 in Union Square, where she worked as a telephone operator. 

She also worked at the Marriott-owned Westin Saint Francis at the same time for many years. 

As she got older, he said, his aunt cut down on her hours, keeping just the Parc 55 gig.

Corazon moved to the United States in the 1980s from the Philippines as a single, professional woman, her nephew said.

Dandan flew to San Francisco from the Midwest and is making funeral arrangements. His aunt wanted her remains back in Manila.

Belmont has a prior conviction for engaging in lewd conduct by touching himself on a BART train near Oakland's Lake Merritt station. Police said he told them he had problems with sexual urges.

We spoke to co-workers, friends and neighbors, each who had an anecdote about how Corazon treated them. Their devastation was tempered by their memories of the person she was. 

She came by after my son was born to bring presents, not only for him but also for my little girl," said neighbor Gabrielle Bostwick. She said Corazon treated them like family. She said she didn't hear the news of her death until days later. "It was horrible news." 

Bostwick said she will remember Dandan for her thoughtfulness after she had given birth. 

"She brought the unicorn for her and a blanket for my son and we love them," Bostwick said. 

Corazon's coworkers say they are in mourning.

"All of us here are devastated," said co-worker Edgardo Zabala. "She was close to us." He said the hotel workers are a tight-knit group. Many are Filipino Americans. He said Corazon was a kind and generous woman who went out of her way to help her co-workers. 

"She brought food for everybody to share. She would personally go to the base, the office, and [say], ‘Ed, I have your dessert. Do you want it?’ That's how she was," Zabala said. 

Friend and former co-worker Will Martinez shared photos of his wife with Corazon. They worked together for 30 years, side-by-side as hotel operators. 

Martinez and Corazon's nephew said she supported her relatives both in the U.S. and in the Philippines. Though she was a single woman, she embraced her friends and co-workers as family. 

Martinez expressed anger and sadness, saying she worked most of her life and didn't have a chance to relax and enjoy retirement. "She's already past the retirement age," he said. 

"We are so very low because of the feeling inside us," Zabala said. 

BART police said what happened here is extremely rare. This was the first homicide on the BART system this year.

Belmont is set to be arraigned on Friday.