SUNNYVALE (CBS SF) — Victims of the Sunnyvale crash recovering from their injuries sustained in Tuesday night’s pedestrian crash are still trying to understand the bizarre behavior of the suspected driver, Isaiah Peoples.
“He was saying, ‘I love you, Jesus. I love you, Jesus,'” said 15-year-old Miguel Balbuena, who was on crutches Wednesday after hurting his leg during the incident. He and his cousin returned to the crash scene Wednesday night.
Balbuena said he and his cousin were riding bicycles, standing on the crosswalk getting ready to cross Camino Real Tuesday evening when a car appeared to speed up then smashed into the young men and six other victims.
As the victims lay bloodied on the ground, Balbuena said the driver emerged from his car and starting acting odd.
“He went to the floor,” Balbuena said, demonstrating how Peoples lay himself down on the ground in a prone position. “He was saying, ‘I love you Jesus.’ And then when the police officers arrived, he was saying, ‘You guys are amazing, and thank you God,’ again.”
Witness Don Draper saw the same thing.
“I yelled at him, ‘What are you doing? What’s the matter with you?’ And all the time, he was saying, ‘I love you Jesus. I love you Jesus,'” remembered Draper.
Sacramento resident Joshua Peoples is the suspect’s brother. He says Isaiah Peoples is suffering from post traumatic stress after serving in combat in Iraq as a gunner in the United States Army.
“It was the PTSD from when he was in the Army. Because that’s the only reason he would do something like this,” Joshua Peoples said.
Isaiah stabilizes when he’s on his medication, his family said. He works as a consultant in Sunnyvale. But when he is off his meds, Isaiah’s mother Leevell Peoples says it gets bad.
“He didn’t come to my house because my house is being watched, quote unquote,” Leevell Peoples said. “They’re watching the house. They’re trying to take him out. He doesn’t want to go to a military hospital, because they’re after him.”
Isaiah’s family said Isaiah has been under a lot of stress lately, worried about losing his job. He’s been hospitalized before for psychotic episodes in the past.
When that has happened, his brother said he would often sings gospel hymns, a callback to his childhood. His late father was a preacher.
“He’s very religious and I think he thinks Satan is trying to attack him,” Joshua Peoples said.
For yesterday’s victims, Isaiah’s mental illness conflicts with their pain. They say it’s no excuse. And there is anger.
“It got me mad, because I was thinking he did it on purpose. Because he said that, ‘Thank you God for giving me this opportunity.’ And I was like, ‘What opportunity!?'”