VTA light-rail worker dies in apparent suicide

A Valley Transportation Authority employee who survived the light-rail yard massacre in San Jose in May has died by apparent suicide, authorities said Tuesday.

Henry Gonzales, a paint and body worker at the Guadalupe light-rail yard, was found dead at about 7 a.m. Monday, police said. No foul play is suspected, and the death is being investigated by San Jose police as a suicide.

Gonzales was a married father of four who had worked at the VTA for 10 years.

"With a heavy heart, we confirm the passing of veteran VTA employee Henry Gonzales," VTA said in a statement. "This is a very difficult time for VTA employees and their families, and we request privacy as we grieve the loss of Henry while continuing to grapple with the loss of nine other co-workers who were tragically killed in May."

Why did the gunman kill 9 co-workers at the San Jose VTA light rail yard before killing himself?

The Santa Clara County medical examiner will determine the cause and manner of Gonzales' death.

Gonzales' death comes at the VTA community is mourning the deaths of nine co-workers. The gunman, Sam Cassidy, who also worked at the VTA, later shot and killed himself as deputies moved in. 

In a statement Tuesday, John Costa, Amalgamated Transit Union International president, said the union was heartbroken by Gonzales' death.

Costa said the tragedy underscores the need to make mental health a priority in the workplace.

"Unfortunately, the VTA has taken no action to address the grief, the mental health and the safety of their employees who have been under unfathomable, extreme stress after this tragic shooting," Costa said. "The VTA must start meeting the overwhelming mental-health needs of the VTA workers before this tragedy grows any larger."

VTA denied those accusations Tuesday, saying it has reached out on a daily basis to workers and their families with "multiple counseling and trauma resources, encouragement to seek help if needed, and reminders to lean on co-workers and friends as they navigated a terrible grief process."

If you or anyone who know needs help, professionals are available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-8000-273-8255.

For VTA workers and their families, counseling and supportive services are also available at the ATU Union Hall at 1590 La Pradera Drive in Campbell from Tuesday Aug. 17 to Friday Aug. 20, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. You do not need to be an ATU member to receive services. All are welcome.

Telehealth services for VTA workers and their families are also available from Wed. Aug 18 to Friday Aug. 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at this Zoom link: https://sccgov-org.zoom/us/j/95697860025.