San Jose Council Candidate’s Car Crash Still Under Investigation

Police are still investigating a Dec. 16 car crash in which a San Jose City Council candidate fatally struck a pedestrian by Blossom Hill Elementary School in Los Gatos.

According to the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department, Jenny Higgins Bradanini—who’s running against Matt Mahan and Helen Wang for Councilman Johnny Khamis’ District 10 seat—was headed to a doctor’s appointment at around 11:40am that day when she rammed her SUV into Timothy Starkey, a 66-year-old Santa Cruz man.

Tim Starkey (second from left) pictured with friends and family.

Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police spokeswoman Sgt. Jamie Fields said on Monday that the incident is still under review, that no arrest has been made and that a cause has yet to be determined.

Field declined to disclose whether distracted driving played a role.

Higgins Bradanini, who expressed condolences to Starkey’s family last week, has been taking time off from her campaign to deal with the fallout of the tragedy.

Her campaign manager Eric Stroker said he has no updates to offer at this time.

Meanwhile, Starkey’s friends have started a fundraiser for his widow, Kathleen Starkey. As of early Monday afternoon, a GoFundMe for the Starkeys garnered $7,500 from 48 donors out of its $10,000 goal.

“Tim Starkey brought so much joy to the lives around him and had a heart of gold,” the GoFundMe campaign creator named Carrie Coffee Ziemer wrote on the site. “Tim shared his sense of humor with everyone he encountered and was happiest cooking a meal during the holidays or a Sunday night dinner with a curated soundtrack.”

Ziemer invited people to share “fond memories” of Starkey on the page, in addition to financial help for his surviving loved ones.

“The Starkey family is grieving with family and friends while also working through the repercussions of the accident and loss of Tim,” Ziemer wrote. “The family has had a tremendous amount of love and support offered to them and has a long and difficult journey ahead. In order to help ease the stress of the financial burden that lies ahead, we have created this fund for Kathleen, Bridget and Joe. They are so grateful for the love, support and contributions from their village.”


  1. If Ms. Higgins Bradanini had been driving a normal car, perhaps the pedestrian would have survived. Why people insist on driving these SUV and pick-up truck battlewagons around urban areas baffles me. It must be partly based on various fears of the road.

      • It’s a question of kinetic energy, but I have no idea whether he’s right. The vehicle came to a halt after striking the man and his vehicle, so seemingly the entire kinetic energy was used up in the collision.

        The formula for kinetic energy is 1/2 the mass times the square of the velocity, so car speed matters much more than car mass. But a Range Rover weighs much more (2.5 tons) than, say, a Smart car (1 ton).

        There probably is some grisly CDC study that shows the energy necessary to kill a person standing behind his car, but I have been unable to find it.

      • Anon: She should drop out b/c her inattentive, sloppy driving killed someone getting stuff out of his trunk.

      • Unlike other pedestrian fatalities, the victim seems not to have been negligent — did not run out into the street, for example. Unless the Range Rover had a sudden mechanical failure, or the driver a sudden, unexpected, stroke or seizure, the fault would seem to lie entirely with Ms. Bradanini.

        And in that case, she would be spending a lot of her time defending herself in a criminal trial for vehicular manslaughter, and not so much representing her fellow San Josean. Let’s say she won the election, but then was jailed for a year. Wouldn’t there have to be a special election to replace her? Or would they keep her seat warm till she did her time?

      • It’s just the most honorable and respectful course of action for her right now. She won’t win the race, and continuing to campaign will waste the time and money of her supporters. It will be a show of self flagellation to the family and might give them some closure.

        • According to another website with an aerial photo of the site:
          “I will be taking time [to] recover from this accident and grieve the loss of life,” Higgins Bradanini said. “I will provide more information at the appropriate time.”
          What more do you expect? I’m pretty sure there’s nothing anyone can do about the candidates on the ballot since the filing deadline passed already (as I’m sure you know). So even if she died, too, she’d still be on the ballot. The photo appears to show zero skid.

  2. The picture of Tim Starkey and his family in happier times will not help “Jenny Higgins Bradanini’s” attorney(s).

    Daavid S. Wall

  3. Too few facts to know anything.
    Whose to say distracted walking was not the proximate cause of the collision? I did not read anything about getting things out of a trunk. Where is the information? Again, too early to say.

    • Robyn, the deceased had parked on Blossom Hill Road in order to hang Christmas lights at a lady’s house. This lady posted the details of the collision on NextDoor. I am a bit surprised they were not published here, but maybe they are waiting for the police report, out of prudence.

      Have you checked the Mercury News and the local TV websites? The lady herself appeared on a local news show, perhaps KPIX.

  4. Remember when the Sherriff ran over the bike rider …And the deanza baseball team raped a girl in full view??? It’s who you know in this town. Sounds like Jenni knows some people.

    • > Remember when the Sherriff ran over the bike rider …’

      No. I don’t remember this. Bring us up to date.

      I remember Mayor Sam Liccardo aggressively and maliciously biking into an innocent SUV minding its own business on a residential street in Willow Glen.

  5. A deputy fell asleep at the wheel on Steven’s Canyon road in Cupertino about a decade ago and killed two young competitive cyclists. That’s enough information there if you want to research it further.I wrote a letter to Laurie Smith asking her to at least fire this guy, but she gave him a desk job

      • That the deputy fell asleep and crossed over the center line and killed two cyclists. The deputy wasn’t charged with a crime (which was ok with me) but wasn’t fired either (not ok with me). The county paid a settlement to the parents of the victims.

  6. It has been over a month now – I do not know the District Attorney’s normal response to accidental deaths caused by negligence, but this looks like she is being given special treatment. Some citation, at the least, or a forensic explanation which exculpates her, if there is one, is the absolute least the family and public are entitled to. The fact we get neither seems to indicate there is no good explanation – everyone speculates distracted driving, but how about this – what about impairment ? If you know that road, it is clear she had to wander really far out of her lane to hit this man straight on when he was parked right next to the curb – was she voluntarily impaired? Does not have to be alcohol or weed or some illegal drug – a lot of prescription drugs, taken legally, will do it Did they do a blood test and archive samples?
    Higgins does not like to advertise it in her relatively conservative district, it is not in her campaign literature, but she was on the Recall Persky committee and is allies with Stanford Law Professor Michele Dauber who DA Jeff Rosen is terrified of. That is probably why she was not charged. And, likely, why she will come back in the campaign towards the end. And, I do not know the polling, but why she has a chance of winning still.

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