The crash occurred about 5:51 AM on Monterey Highway south of Chester Avenue in San Martin. Officer Branik was southbound on his 2005 Suzuki motorcycle on his way to work, when a truck turned in front of him, according to The Mercury News. His motorcycle hit the right-front section of the truck.
Officer Branik was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the truck was apparently not injured. The crash is still under investigation, and drugs and alcohol did not play a part, according to CHP.
He was a 12-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol, having worked out of the San Jose office before being assigned to the Gilroy Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Facility off Highway 101.
Officer Ross Lee, who worked with Officer Branik, said "He was dedicated to the job. He was a very knowledgeable guy and took the job very seriously."
"It is with great sadness that the Hollister-Gilroy Area office has to report that CHP Officer James Branik was involved in a motor vehicle collision this morning that took his life.
Although James was assigned to the Gilroy Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Facility at the time of his death, many of us here at the Hollister-Gilroy Area office worked side by side with him in the field over the past several years or worked with him when he was assigned to the San Jose Area office. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family. He will be truly missed!"
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of California Highway Patrol Officer James Branik, both blood and blue. Godspeed, sir, we will take the watch from here. Thank you for your service.
Officer Branik, your life mattered.