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BLET honors the memory of Jose Hernandez III, son of BLET member, killed in VTA mass shooting

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, June 4 — All men and women of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) send their deepest condolences to Brother Roy A. Benbow, his family, and friends. Brother Benbow is a member of BLET Division 839, whose step-son Jose Hernandez III was killed in the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) mass shooting in San Jose, California, on May 26, 2021. Jose was one of nine victims in the tragedy. He was just 35 years old.

“Heart wrenching devastation,” Brother Benbow said. “It’s so hard to believe something so evil could happen.”

Brother Benbow recalls his step-son as a kind, sensitive and outgoing young man. Jose made friends easily and would drop whatever he was doing to help a friend in need. Jose began working for the VTA as a transit mechanic in 2012, working on buses, later becoming an electro-mechanic and then a substation mechanic. As a VTA employee, Jose was a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 265. VTA provides bus, light rail, and paratransit services in the San Jose area, and participates as a funding partner in regional rail services including Caltrain, Capital Corridor, and the Altamont Corridor Express.

“I’m not using the word lightly, but Jose was a genius mechanic,” Brother Benbow said. “A master mechanic. Mechanical things just came naturally to him easily. He was bright, technical. He loved life. He loved a lot of things. Soccer. Snowboarding. Wake boarding. Drones. Taking things apart and putting them back together. He enjoyed riding his motorcycle and boating. He played guitar and built motorcycles. He was a bright young man.”

Brother Benbow says he began dating Jose’s mother, Karrey, in 2004 when Jose was 19 years old. Jose had always been especially close to his mother.

“We are a Christian family,” Brother Benbow said. “We knew we wanted to get married, and felt it was important to have Jose’s blessing. I went to him and he agreed. We made a special pact because he wanted his mother to be married, taken care of and protected. Our relationship was as good as you can get.”

Brother Benbow and Karrey were married in 2005, and celebrate their 16th wedding anniversary today, June 4, 2021. Brother Benbow has worked in the railroad industry for 42 years, including 11 years as a trainman and the past 31 as a locomotive engineer with the BNSF Railway. He holds his seniority on the former Santa Fe Railway’s Valley Division. He has been a member of BLET Division 839 in Richmond, California, since January 1, 1995.

Tanya Hernandez, Jose’s sister, said his motto for life was: “Drive fast. Take chances. Live your life.”

Brother Benbow says the family is planning a celebration of life for Jose on June 19, 2021, but that details have not yet been finalized.

“It is difficult to find words to express our devastation at the loss of life suffered in San Jose on May 26,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “One senseless act of evil can hurt the lives of so many people. It is my hope that this humble tribute to Jose Hernandez III will serve to honor his memory and help us to remember what is good and right in America. On behalf of the 57,500 men and women of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, I extend our most heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of all victims in the VTA tragedy, especially to Brother Benbow and his family.”

Friday, June 4, 2021

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