SJ residents plea for drivers to slow down after boy killed, create own traffic safety measures

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Tuesday, September 20, 2022
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After a boy was hit and killed while walking to school, San Jose residents are calling for more speedbumps, stop signs - anything to keep kids safe.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Monday marked the first day back at school for Castlemont Elementary students, since their classmate was hit and killed by a car on Friday.

A growing memorial for Jacob Villanueva, 8, sits at the site of the crash on Castlemont Avenue and Driftwood Drive in San Jose.

"Please drive slow," was on one of many signs placed by residents in the surrounding community. They are pleas from neighbors living on the San Jose-Campbell border.

Beyond the makeshift traffic calming measures, there is a growing memorial for Jacob. The third grader was hit and killed at the crosswalk, on his way to school on Friday morning.

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Jacob was walking with his babysitter, who spoke with our media partners at Univision from her hospital bed. San Jose Police (SJPD) said she suffered a broken leg.

Translated from Spanish, Juana Robledo told Univision about the overwhelming shock. Robledo said she feels Jacob's death is her fault.

She described being unable to sleep at night, as the tragedy continuing to replay in her head.

Robledo explained she knew some day there would be an accident at the crosswalk. However, never did she imagine it would be her and a little one.

"I think everybody feels like this could've been their child," resident Shannon Birdsong told ABC7 News. "And your heart goes out to this family. And you want to be able to do something."

Last Friday, Birdsong was dropping off her child who also attends Castlemont. She said she ran into the roadblock, but didn't understand a student was hit until she arrived at the school.

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By Monday, residents put out their own safety signs, cones, and flags for crossing. While some drivers slowed down out of confusion, neighbors were overall grateful people were at least slowing down.

They are calling on the City of San Jose to install speedbumps, stop signs - anything to keep the many kids in the community safe.

"It's one thing to say, 'This was such a tragedy and we're going to make sure it doesn't happen again,'" resident Rhonda Selin said about the city. "It's another thing to do it."

She continued, "I'm so grateful that somebody came out and put these signs out saying, 'Drive like your kids live here,' because that's getting peoples' attention. But here's the thing, how long are those going to be here?"

Jacob's father and family were at the crash site Monday evening. ABC7 News saw Jacob's father reading a message left for the family.

"It's very sad," resident Geneva Walls said. "And it's very close to home."

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The grieving community, taking safety into their own hands.

ABC7 News reached out to San Jose's Department of Transportation (DOT). Part of the city's plans include collecting traffic data to see if a stop sign is needed at this location. More immediately, crews will be out at the site on Tuesday morning to repaint the crosswalk.

In a statement, Colin Heyne with the city's DOT explained in part, "Our safety team is working on a write-up of the crash site with recommendations."

Heyne described, hypothetically, "Once it's approved it will turn into work orders for our infrastructure maintenance crews. These could be for refreshed or new paint markings, changes or additions to signs, tree work, or more substantial changes."

He said the street is on the city's pavement plan for next year.

"And we will look at making more substantive changes then. In the meanwhile we will collect traffic data and do a study to see if we can add a stop sign to this location," Heyne told ABC7 News.

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live