Driver went around crossing gates in San Jose train, car crash that killed 2, police say

Lilian Kim Image
ByLilian Kim KGO logo
Monday, July 9, 2018
SJPD says driver went around crossing gates in VTA, car crash that killed 2
Two people died in a crash with a VTA train in San Jose Sunday afternoon, according to VTA officials.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Security video from Hapa's Brewery shows customers outside enjoying their beer when all of a sudden a vehicle collides with a VTA train. The car, a gold Buick Regal, is mangled, while the train runs off its rails.

"The corner of my eye just happen to see this dude turning right when the train came and hit him and for a half a second my brain didn't register what it was and then you heard the loudest sound you've ever heard," said witness Ryan Stern.

The train operator and the roughly 20 passengers on board suffered no serious injuries. Passenger Jose Zarate is recovering from a sore hand.

"It felt like a tin can just crunching. You see the walls coming down on you. You don't know what to expect you know? I didn't know if it was a bomb. I didn't know what it was. I didn't know it was a car until after," said Zarate.

The male driver of the Buick and his male passenger died at the scene. Witnesses say they may have been living out of their car. They say it was packed with possessions.

RELATED: Deadly crash prompts delays on VTA in San Jose

"We all went out to the car and the dude was barely breathing and people were telling him to stay with him but it's pretty hard to survive a wreck like that," said Stern.

San Jose Police say the crossing arms were down and functioning, but the man behind the wheel still tried to drive around them. Investigators say the Buick was going south while the Mountain View to Winchester VTA train was heading north.

"We're just encouraging everyone that safety is really everyone's job so whether you're a pedestrian, driving a vehicle or a bicyclist, we all need to exhibit caution with the crossing gates, signs and platforms," said VTA Spokesperson Holly Perez.

Currently, a bus bridge is transporting passengers between stations. Service disruptions will likely continue for the next day or so. VTA says passengers should check their website and Twitter feed for service updates.

The crash is under investigation.