Community stunned after third-grade student killed so close to his elementary school 

By: Nichole Garcia 

Sept 21, 2022

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — On Sep. 16, an 8 year old boy died from being hit by a vehicle, on his way walking to school at Castlemont Elementary school with his babysitter. 

Jacob Villanueva, a young boy in third grade was hit and killed by an SUV driver at a crosswalk. He was just one block away from his school Castlemont Elementary. However he never made it to school that Friday morning. His daycare provider, a 44-year-old lady, was also hit, and suffered a broken leg. 

According to NBC Bay Area news, “Preliminary information revealed the driver was traveling southbound on Castlemont Avenue when they struck the pedestrians in a marked crosswalk at Driftwood Drive.¨

A San Jose Police Officer said, “This is not an enhanced crosswalk as we’ve seen before that has lights or signage that differentiates. This is merely two yellow lines painted on the roadway.”

At the intersection of Driftwood Drive and Castlemont Avenue, there are no stop signs. Additionally, it appears that big trees hide people from view for vehicles making a turn from Driftwood Avenue.

Torklaw Champions of the people explains, “Experts have said that the rise in pedestrian deaths is partly due to the short staffing for the San Jose Police Department. The department used to have 40 traffic enforcement officers, but now they only have 14.”

This year, there have been 47 fatal crashes and 26 pedestrian fatalities in San Jose.

Picture of a pedestrian sign
photo credits: paulbr75 from Pixabay

Sam Liccardo, the mayor of San Jose, posted the following message on social media on Friday, “There’s nothing so tragic as seeing a young light extinguished too soon. One important way to honor his loss is to remain vigilant about slowing down to enable our children and seniors to safely share this city with us.”

Christina, a parent from San Jose explained, “As a parent of students that walk to school and would like to bike, I am very concerned. There should be clearly marked crosswalks and lights that flash indicating that a pedestrian is about to cross. Especially near schools, libraries, community centers and playgrounds. There should also be street lamps that illuminate the area when it gets darker earlier. There should also be consequences for people that drive through crosswalks when pedestrians are walking. Not just when an officer is present.”

A Silver Creek student said, “ it affects me because my safety isn’t guaranteed, I think San Jose needs to improve their walkways with more precautions.”

Jacob Villanueva’s death could have been prevented, he could still be living right now. He had a whole life and future ahead of him. Like Villanueva, 25 other humans died in the streets of San Jose this year, for different reasons. Of course the deaths of all these people are not solely to blame on drivers. Pedestrians have to look both ways before crossing, make sure it’s their right away to walk, and be cautious at all times. From what has been shown as of lately, laws need to change. City officials can take a number of actions to lessen the incidence of collisions involving pedestrians.

Traffic infractions are likely to lead to collisions and should be enforced. To examine accidents, there ought to be a sufficient number of traffic officers. City officials should research the areas where accidents occur most frequently, especially at crossroads or on roadways that might be dangerous.

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