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Pedestrian Killed In San Jose Hit-And-Run Identified

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- South Bay authorities have identified the male victim in a fatal hit-and-run pedestrian-vehicle collision that happened early Monday.

The Santa Clara County Coroner's office has identified the victim in Monday morning's fatal hit-and-run accident on Almaden Expressway as 57-year-old San Jose resident Robinder Singh Bhurji.

Bhurji was struck and killed just north of Camden Avenue in the northbound lanes at about 6:23 a.m.

A yellow tarp covered the body of the victim while San Jose police investigators literally tip-toed around the debris field left behind by the collision.

Police said the victim was outside of a crosswalk when he was struck.

"The suspect vehicle, which at this point is described as a red pickup truck, struck the pedestrian in the roadway. Then four other cars ran over the pedestrian," said SJPD Sgt. Enrique Garcia.

San Jose Almaden Hit-&-Run
Authorities on the scene of a fatal-hit-and run near Almaden Expressway and Camden Avenue in San Jose on January 28, 2019. (CBS)

Police say the driver of the red pickup was seen slowing to a stop after the collision, but then fled the scene.

The red pickup was said to have extensive front-end damage.

"It's a tragedy," said Colin Heyne of the San Jose Transportation Department, which is trying to find a solution to the sharp increase in fatal pedestrian accidents.

Monday's accident was the fourth pedestrian fatality of the new year.

Last year, there were 24 pedestrian fatalities in San Jose. That is the highest number in three years, according to Heyne.

He said Almaden Expressway is one of 17 priority safety corridors where the city is focusing efforts to slow traffic down.

"They're streets designed closer to freeways when our city expanded rapidly in the '60s, '70s and '80s. We were building streets that could accommodate a lot of traffic and move cars very quickly," Heyne said. "These streets were not designed well for people to walk and ride bikes."

On Monday night, friends and family gathered to mourn Bhurji. Everyone who knew him well simply called him Robin. He was a man of deep faith, a Sunday School teacher, a volunteer firefighter, a husband, and a father of two sons.

"He was absolutely a fantastic human being. He touched the lives of tens of thousands of people," said Gurminder Singh, a friend of the family.

Dozens of Robin's close friends comforted each other Monday night in the driveway of his San Jose home, which is only a few blocks from where he was hit and killed early Monday morning.

Another friend Gurinder Bal Singh, a friend of the family, choked back tears as he said, "Just sheer shock. I can't believe that he's not with us."

The friends were there to support Robin's wife and two sons, and also remember a man they said was beyond selfless.

Robin was a Sunday school teacher at the Guru Nanak Khalsa School attached to the Sikh Gurdwara Temple in San Jose for the past 25 years. He planned activities for more than 700 kids each weekend.

"When I go there next week, it will be very difficult for me to not have him there," said Gurminder Singh.

Robin was also a volunteer firefighter, and somehow still managed to work full time as a facility manager at a medical device company in San Jose.

"It's kind of sad to be talking about him in the past. Just a few hours ago, he was a live human being," said Gurinder Bal Singh.

Those gathered here tonight say they can't understand how this could have happened to their friend.

"While we are all in a rush, we're trying to do our jobs and we are trying to be efficient, we need to be human. We should try to help, and just rushing away from the scene of an accident, that's not the human thing to do," said Gurinder Bal Singh.

Robin's family said they don't know why he was out walking across Almaden Expressway so early Monday.

The Sikh Gurdwara Temple at 3636 Gurdwara Avenue in San Jose will host a celebration of Robin's life this Saturday. Family said anyone who wants to attend is welcome.

On Monday, the family of Peggy Urueta -- who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in downtown San Jose last week -- put up fliers to help the police investigation. Like Monday morning's crash, it is still an unsolved crime.

"I think the city needs to find ways to make it more pedestrian safe, and educate drivers and get them to pay attention more," said Brenda Urueta, the victim's daughter.

Anyone with information is urged to call "911" or contact Detective Troy Sirmons of the San Jose Police Department's Traffic Investigations Unit at 408-277-4654.

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