Ray Minter has lived at his California home since before the 680 South freeway in San Jose was built in 1972, having moved in 12 years earlier without so much as a close call before the off-ramp for Jackson Avenue was built.
Since then, however, the San Jose homeowner can count 23 accidents that involved a car either pummelling through his front lawn or ending up crashing through the walls of his own home.
“Since the freeway has been there, I’ve had four of the cars come through my house completely. All the other ones have torn up my fence, and I’ve lost three cars in the yard,” Mr Minter said in an interview with KTVU.
He parks his own vehicle out in front of his home, making it a prime target for the drivers that come speeding off the freeway and often miscalculate how fast they’re going before they attempt to make a right turn onto Jackson Avenue.
Some of the incidents, Mr Minter concedes, can be chalked up as careless drivers going too fast for their own good. But he assesses that most of them have been the result of drunk drivers.
“A few of them have been hurt pretty badly but most of them have been drunk,” he told KTVU, recalling an incident in 2016 involving the driver of a 2016 GMC High Sierra who struck his car going 105 mph (170 kph).
In another incident, Mr Minter’s own family was harmed in a crash that, though not fatal, could’ve easily been given the speeding rates that drivers come thumping down the ramp at.
“My youngest niece, she was young. She was right here on the curb and a lady came flying across and hit her,” he told the local news station. That niece ended up suffering a broken arm and was laid up in hospital for a couple of weeks, he added.
And Mr Minter’s home hasn’t been the only site of dangerous crashes in recent years, as he notes that the whole neighbourhood is at-risk with the ill-placed off-ramp.
In 2020, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a driver, just one block away from where the off-ramp and Mr Minter’s house is located, Mercury News reported.
“The city needs to do something to protect, not only us, but the whole neighbourhood,” he told KTVU in an interview in front of his home of five decades.
Despite residents flagging the off-ramp as a dangerous strip of roadway, the City of San Jose says that it has no authority to make changes to it but has informed the neighbourhood that it has applied for a $40m to undergo a safety project along Jackson Avenue from Berryessa Avenue to Story Road.
The project, if the grant is approved, wouldn’t get underway until 2023 at the earliest. In the interim, the city says that it is encouraging all drivers to slow down and obey the traffic laws.
For Mr Minter, the only temporary recourse that he and his insurance company have come up with is the addition of steel poles in his front yard, which came at the lofty price tag of $30,000.
That metal fencing, however, has done little to prevent people from driving headfirst into his yard.
In the same 2016 incident involving the drunk driver who was going 105mph, that driver also went right through the poles, forcing Mr Minter to replace the metal barrier.