LOS GATOS -- A 25-year-old Santa Cruz resident has been identified as the man killed Thursday when a big rig collided with 10 vehicles on northbound Highway 17 near the Lexington Reservoir.
Daniel McGuire, who worked for a Silicon Valley staffing and consulting company, was identified Friday as the crash's sole fatality by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office, as the California Highway Patrol continued to investigate the cause of the pileup.
McGuire attended San Jose State and worked for Triple Crown Consulting's office on South Bascom Avenue in Campbell, according to Monica Jackson, a friend and colleague.
On the Triple Crown website Friday, the company posted a remembrance written by Jackson in which she described McGuire as "a wonderful, smart, genuine guy."
"You don't find them just anywhere, but I'm thankful for getting the opportunity to get to know him over the past two years," wrote Jackson, who declined to be interviewed by this newspaper. "Heaven has gained an angel.
"Dan, thanks for showing me to always live life to the fullest, work your hardest and to never take a moment for granted."
Jackson said she met McGuire during her senior year at San Jose State.
McGuire was in the fifth car in a line of vehicles that was struck by the big rig, according to the CHP. He was ejected from his vehicle.
Seven other people suffered a range of injuries, according to CHP Officer Ross Lee. One woman was listed in critical condition at a hospital after she suffered a laceration to her liver, but she was expected to survive. Six others were taken to hospitals with minor to moderate injuries.
The big rig was traveling just south of Bear Creek Road when the crash occurred, according to the CHP.
The rig driver spoke with reporters at the scene and said the weight of the two dirt-filled trailers he was hauling combined with the steep grade -- about 6 percent -- prevented him from stopping in time.
"It wasn't decreasing speed. It kept going up 'cause it was, like, too steep for me," Rabinderbal Singh told KTVU.
The truck's brakes were ineffective and only emitted smoke, he said.
Though he has just under three months' experience driving such a vehicle, Singh told the station he followed his training and swerved into the guardrail to try to stop the descending rig.
Steve Salika, an engineer at a Cupertino company, was making his daily commute from Santa Cruz and witnessed the collision. He said traffic slowed down and was almost at a standstill near Lexington when the big rig "piled into all those vehicles."
"It rolled over everything in its path," said Salika, who was riding a motorcycle to work. "I was on top of the grade watching it occur. It is so bizarre when you see something like this."
That guardrail was still being repaired Friday, causing severe jams on the highway that each weekday carries about 54,000 vehicles traveling between Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties, but nothing resembling the multi-hour shutdown Thursday.
Surinderpal Singh, the owner of SBT Trucking -- which consists only of the truck, himself and the driver (to whom he is not related) -- told KTVU a safety check was conducted on the truck the morning of the crash, and that it was inspected by the CHP two weeks ago.
The case remains under investigation.
Staff writer Robert Salonga contributed to this report. Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869. Follow him at Twitter.com/markmgomez.