Yet another vigil for a person recently killed by a car on the streets of Oakland was held Tuesday evening. 

The tragedy happened on June 3. According to the police, Kveontae WilliamsWade lost control of his white Dodge Journey minivan around midnight and rear-ended a stolen red Kia Soul that swerved in front of him. The Kia’s driver then collided with four parked vehicles, including a Honda Accord. Joseph Morehouse Sr., who was standing next to the vehicles, was hit by the Honda and died at the scene. A woman in the driver’s seat of the parked Honda suffered neck injuries from the whiplash.

The Kia’s driver fled the scene and remains unidentified. WilliamsWade was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

In an interview, Jeanine Grayson, Morehouse’s niece, said she is shocked by the tragedy but she thinks the road’s notorious problem—cars speeding in the rapid bus lane—may have had something to do with it. 

“The road is most definitely more dangerous than before,” said Grayson. “When it was being built, my grandma said ‘This is a death trap. It needs to go.’” 

Locals told The Oaklandside at the vigil that the deadly crash is the latest example of the reckless driving that occurs on International Boulevard daily and that it has worsened since AC Transit’s “TEMPO” rapid bus route began service two years ago. 

The TEMPO bus system was supposed to provide a quick transit option for people living along International to get from San Leandro to downtown Oakland. But in order to add a dedicated bus-only lane, the city and AC Transit had to remove one of the two private vehicle lanes that used to exist for both directions on the busy road. Since the changes were put into effect, dangerous driving had become common, with some drivers illegally speeding in the bus lanes and cutting off other cars.

In the middle of Tuesday night’s vigil, cars continuously and illegally drove through the bus lane. At one point, a driver illegally occupying the bus lane stopped to talk to a protester. When asked why he was driving in the bus lane, the man, with a sheepish smile, said he was in a rush. 

Another driver, who was not in the bus lane, stopped long enough to tell the protesters and this reporter that adding the bus lanes made the road feel “fucking crazy.” 

The vigil was organized by the Traffic Violence Rapid Response team, advocates who want safer roads in Oakland. It was the group’s 11th event to mourn the death of someone killed on Oakland’s roads in the last year. 

Kuan Butts, one of the protesters and a software engineer said AC Transit is hesitant to add structures to the road that could prevent cars from speeding because it will also mean slowing down their buses. 

“They see the TEMPO as their highest ridership bus because it goes fast. But they don’t understand that because of socioeconomic reasons, the design is making [the road unsafe],” Butts said.

Trauma from the crash and its aftermath ripples out into the community

Jose Moris Villalobos stands in front of his car on International Boulevard. The Oakland resident was sleeping at home when a car collided with several parked cars and his building, killing Joseph Morehouse Sr. Credit: Amir Aziz

The car that was knocked onto the sidewalk, killing Morehouse, also damaged the frame of the building where Jose Moris Villalobos lives.

A native of El Salvador who works as a delivery driver, Villalobos was inside asleep at the time of the collision. He told us in his native Spanish that he was woken up by the crash and, within seconds, looked out his window, seeing Morehouse laying on the ground surrounded by several crumpled cars. 

Villalobos said the moment felt like the transition from a dream into a nightmare. 

Police later told him he couldn’t move his car because it was evidence, Villalobos said. The Oaklandside was able to review the police collision reports provided to him. The paperwork didn’t provide any clear instructions about who he should contact to get access to his car or if he had other information about the wreck, and Villalobos said he was confused by the police.

Villalobos said that he has been unable to work since the collision and asked his landlord to extend his rental agreement because he can’t afford to pay rent this month. He also told us he’d experienced trauma, including being unable to sleep for the first week after seeing the violent scene, his body replaying the tremor he felt from the heavy collision under his bed. 

“I stayed still on my bed for hours at a time, just looking up and forward at the ceiling,” he said in Spanish. “It was a terrible sight to see.”

Moorehouse’s niece, Grayson, said her family was worried when they didn’t hear from him the night of the crash and the morning after. But when Moorehouse’s friend who had been in the Honda contacted them and said she was in the hospital, they suspected he also might have been hurt. 

They tried calling the police but OPD initially said there was no incident at the location. Grayson later went to the crime scene herself, found one of his shoes, and took it to the police for analysis to prove that it was her uncle’s. She said a few days later her family received a call that Moorehouse had been killed.

Morehouse, 64, and an Oakland native lived with his 82-year-old mother at 101st Avenue and International. Grayson said he was a “good guy” who worked in warehouses and was probably taking a walk with friends the night of the crash. The grandmother is not doing well since she lost her other son to a heart attack last year, Grayson said.

Residents along International Boulevard say they are fed up with speeding

Oakland resident Natalie Mall places candles next to the location where Joseph Morehouse Sr. was killed. Credit: Amir Aziz

There is a sidewalk taco stand located steps from where Morehouse died. The business, run by a family originally from Jalisco, Mexico, is open from the afternoon until late at night.

Several taqueros were serving food to the vigil protesters Tuesday and they told us that speeding in the bus lane is a constant occurrence. They worry constantly about someone colliding with their stand.

Lolo Soakai, an Oakland native who died in a similar collision last year, was hit when a car landed on him near another street taco stand on International at 51st Street.

“I try not to think about it, but yes, it’s pretty scary here,” the taquero told us.

Flor Beltran, a parent who lives near 51st and International and who drives her daughter to school a block away simply to avoid crossing the road on foot, told us she hadn’t seen any safety improvements in the last year. 

“It’s getting worse,” she said. “The International Avenue community needs to come together for a strike or protest. It’s super dangerous here. But maybe we don’t shout because people see this as normal now and are tired.” 

The Traffic Violence Rapid Response team members have put up signs at locations all over Oakland where drivers have killed people. Credit: Amir Aziz

Grayson said that even though she used to drive to Texas regularly, she is now afraid to drive to East Oakland and International Avenue because of the speeding. And her daughter, she says, refuses to use the Tempo bus on International because it’s in the middle of the street and cars drive illegally and too fast on the lane. 

“You have to look 3-4 times to see if a car is going to jump in while a bus is coming,” she said. 

The Oakland Police Department said the incident is still under investigation and asked anyone with information to contact the department’s Investigation Unit at (510) 777-8570.

Jose Fermoso covers road safety, transportation, and public health for The Oaklandside. His previous work covering tech and culture has appeared in publications including The Guardian, The New York Times, and One Zero. Jose was born and raised in Oakland and is the host and creator of the El Progreso podcast, a new show featuring in-depth narrative stories and interviews about and from the perspective of the Latinx community.