SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Friends and family members huddled around a memorial to the young man who lost his life in what police say was an illegal street race.

Nineteen-year-old Jamie Pech was at the wheel of a 1998 Honda, racing another car where Snell Avenue forms an S-curve near Capitol, according to police. Both drivers lost control and crashed, Pech’s car was wrapped around a tree on the driver’s side and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

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The crash happened Thursday night just before 11 p.m.

“It didn’t look like anyone was going to get out of that car,” said neighbor Tia Nicholas, who was saddened by yet another fatality on this section of Snell which she says often becomes a speedway.

Snell is now dotted with fresh and fading memorials to the young people who died here.

“We’ve seen a lot, even behind you there’s another memorial on that tree, across the street there’s another. So we see this a lot,” Nichols said.

The other car, a 2001 Lexus GS30, ended up in the median. The driver of that car was not injured and stayed behind and cooperated with investigators. Charges against that driver are pending.

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“I know it seems fun and you think you’re in control but we keep seeing young people die right here on this street and it’s just not worth it,” said City Councilman Matt Mahan, who came to the scene and said he’s looking into radar speed signs or other road improvements for this stretch.

For months, the San Jose Police Department has been posting videos on social media channels about the dangers of street racing, and consequences of just being a spectator.
Two years ago, the city council made it illegal to even watch a street race or sideshow in hopes it will deter drivers from showing off.

“The penalties are very stiff. You can lose your car, you can lose your license and worst of all, you can kill somebody,” said former City Councilman Johnny Khamis, who helped craft the ordinance.

This was the 23rd fatal traffic collision, and 24th victim of 2021, police said.

Anyone with information about the crash was urged to contact Detective Templeman #3556 of the San José Police Department’s Traffic Investigations Unit at 408-277-4654.

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Len Ramirez contributed to this story.