Woman killed at San Jose City College in freak accident

Tuesday afternoon a woman was killed in an accident involving heavy-duty construction equipment at San Jose City College.

August 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Tuesday afternoon there was a terrible tragedy in the South Bay. A woman was killed in a freak accident involving heavy-duty construction equipment at San Jose City College.

UPDATE: She has been identified as 49-year-old Magda Gonzalez.

Gonzalez was on a walkway when a huge front loader that was moving dirt backed up and crushed her while she walked along a pedestrian walkway.

A small bouquet was placed in the spot where she died. Earlier, campus police surrounded the scene near the fine arts building and the cosmetology school.

"As a grandmother and mother, I want to reiterate my deep felt condolences to the family of the individual involved," said chancellor Rita Cepeda.

The worksite shut down immediately after the crash and the driver of the backhoe spoke to grief counselors on the spot. He works for Preston Pipelines -- the company hired to work on an underground water valve.

"He's been an operating engineer for over 35 years. He's got quite a bit of experience," said Ron Bianchini of Preston Pipelines.

CAL-OSHA is investigating the crash. It released records showing in July 2011 the Milpitas-based company was fined $560 for improperly securing loads and in 2009 it was fined $4,000 for a serious violation involving heat illness standards.

Many on campus just couldn't believe what happened.

"It's very scary because it's usually very quiet area, they have had a lot of construction and they had it all cordoned off while they were doing that," said Wendy Pio, a college instructor.

According to one witness, up until Monday a large chain link fence enclosed the entire worksite and it even blocked access to the pedestrian walkway. The witness had no idea why the fence came down.

Calls to the chancellor and Preston Pipelines regarding the fence have not been returned.

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