(San Jose, California – March 19, 2013)
The life and career of a budding musician were both cut short Tuesday afternoon at about 4:05 P.M. as he walked beside Caltrain railroad tracks just a few yards from his home and was struck a glancing, fatal blow by train #263 moments after it had left Diridon Station in San Jose, CA.
Donae Johnican, 16, a vocalist and guitar player who had already produced professional music videos, was killed as the train came around a bend behind him as he walked home from San Jose Lincoln High School, which specializes as a high school for the performing arts.
The accident occurred in a corridor that the railroad had already announced plans to fence off to protect the public from the temptation to use the rails as a pedestrian pathway, but the improvements were still only a distant hope of reality as the Caltrain corridor suffered its fourth pedestrian fatality this year.
The victim was allegedly wearing ear phones, but was walking beside, not directly upon, the Caltrain tracks which are owned by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board and accommodate Union Pacific freights and Amtrak passenger service in addition to the Caltrain operations. The tracks accommodate three dozen trains daily at a top allowable speed of 35 mph.
Over 200 classmates, fans and family members gathered Thursday night at San Jose’s Theodore Lenzen Park, near the recording/production studio where he had begun his commercial career, where he had said on one video that “Music has been a big part of my life since I was a kid.”
Now that voice and musical talent are silent, and friends and relatives were inconsolable as they shared memories of Donae’s talent and accomplishments. “Today, if I could just hear Donae sing me a song,” said the victim’s grandmother, Janice Carolina.
“The hardest part is I want Donae back,” sobbed his uncle, Deshonn Noble.
“I think he was the one who deserved to live more than anyone,” lamented classmate Jeanninne Pecot.
Kianta Noble, Donae’s mother who raised him as a single parent after the death of his father before Donae was born, struggled to say “God gave me the blessing of giving birth to an angel and everybody doesn’t get to do that and all of you got to love him.”