Calif. fire captain’s 3 children, ex-wife killed in crash

On a fundraising site created for Capt. Steve Biakanja, San Jose Fire Station 16 crews are asking for community support to help "ease the burden of this tragedy"


Jason Green
Bay Area News Group

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A San Jose fire captain is navigating a new reality after losing all three of his children in a traffic collision Sunday near Hollister.

Capt. Steve Biakanja’s twin 14-year-old daughters Leigh and Lucy and 12-year-old son Ben were killed in the crash, according to a GoFundMe fundraiser organized by San Jose Fire Station 16. The collision also claimed the life of his ex-wife, Lisa Biakanja.

“In the wake of great tragedy, San Jose Fire Station 16 is asking for your support to raise funds for Captain Steve Biakanja as he navigates a new reality following the recent deaths of all three of his children in a terrible auto accident,” the GoFundMe page said.

“With your help, we can do our best to ease the burden of this tragedy and to honor the memory of his beloved children.”

The funds will be used to cover the children’s funeral costs, as well as counseling, meals and other forms of support for Biakanja and his wife, Thuan, according to the page.

The collision occurred at 8:05 p.m. Sunday on State Route 156 west of Fairview Road, according to the California Highway Patrol. In a statement, the CHP said a 2014 Tesla was traveling eastbound on the highway when it crossed over the solid double yellow lines and crashed into a 2015 Freightliner traveling in the opposite direction.

The four occupants of the Tesla – identified as residents of Carmel Valley – suffered fatal injuries, according to the CHP.

The CHP said the driver of the tractor-trailer, identified as a 39-year-old Madera man, was taken to Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister with minor injuries.

An investigation is underway into the crash, and it was not immediately known if drugs or alcohol played a role, the CHP said.

According to the GoFundMe page, Leigh was a Sea Cadet who enjoyed learning about science and playing softball. Lucy loved animals and raised chickens and doves as a hobby. Ben left behind a collection of World War II memorabilia, an “avid interest of his.”

As of 9 p.m. Thursday, the fundraiser had raised roughly $150,000 of its $200,000 goal.

Anyone who witnessed the traffic collision can contact Officer N. Stewart at 408-848-2324.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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