SAN JOSE(KCBS) — A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Friday to mark the opening of new pedestrian bridge in South San Jose, named after a toddler who was killed while trying to cross railroad tracks seven years ago.
In 2005, two-year-old Alexander "Xander" Arriaga was fatally struck by an Amtrack train while trying to follow his babysitter across Monterrey Highway near Blossom Hill Road. A new bridge in his name will take pedestrians safely across the once popular shortcut.
Julie Sanchez, Arriaga's aunt, said the bridge called "Xander's Crossing" helps keep the memory of her nephew alive.
KCBS' Mike Colgan Reports:
"We feel honored that Xander's memory is being kept alive in this way; that a two-year-old boy's memory of such a tragic accident isn't going to be forgotten and with this bridge being built it may even save lives," Sanchez said. "We are just grateful for the city and everyone putting this together. We are so thankful."
Eleven-year-old Elija Arriaga, Xander's brother who witnessed the accident, cut the ribbon that opened the bridge.
The tragedy occurred when the boys' babysitter left them with another woman, Katrina Hatton, who took them across the tracks to get to a fast-food restaurant, the next closest crossing being a half-mile away. As Hatton went back to get her daughter who was in a stroller, Xander followed her and was struck by the train.
The following year, Hatton pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment and was sentenced to four years probation.
San Jose Police Lieutenant Eduardo Padria was one of the first responders to the tragedy in 2005 and has never forgotten Xander. He thinks the bridge will spare other families a similar tragedy.
"There isn't a moment when I pass this area that I don't recall that event. It's kind of hard," Padria said.
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