Protester hit by car on I-5 in Seattle dies at hospital
One person has died and another is seriously injured after being struck by a car during a protest-related closure on I-5 in Seattle early Saturday.
According to KIRO-7, investigators identified the individuals as Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle, and Diaz Love, 32, of Bellingham. Taylor suffered critical, life-threatening injuries, and passed away Saturday evening at Harborview Medical Center. Love remains in serious condition in intensive care.
Love posted on Facebook yesterday: “I’m alive an stable. In a lot of pain. I cannot believe Summer was murdered. If they thought this murder would make us back down, they are very wrong.”
The driver, a 27-year-old man from Seattle, identified as Dawit Kelete, was arrested and is expected in court Monday at 2:30 p.m. Troopers do not believe impairment was a factor. KIRO 7 reports that Kelete was booked into the King County Correctional Facility on two counts of vehicular assault.
Troopers did not know whether it was a targeted attack.
Video on social media showed a white car traveling at a high rate of speed navigate around two vehicles positioned across the lanes as a barrier. The car careened toward a small crowd of protesters on the freeway, striking two people who flew into the air before landing on the ground.
A nearly two-hour-long Facebook live stream captioned “Black Femme March takes I-5” from Diaz Love ended abruptly; with about 15 seconds left, shouts of “Car!” can be heard as the camera starts to shake before screeching tires and the sound of impact are heard. The Associated Press could not immediately reach her.
Seattle has been the site of prolonged unrest following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide protests. Dozens of people were arrested this past week in connection with protests as demonstrations continue after authorities cleared the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone Wednesday morning.
Washington State Patrol Captain Ron Mead said at the press conference that protesters had shut down the interstate for 19 days in a row. He emphasized that the freeway is “simply not a safe place” for pedestrians, and said he hoped protesters would cease what he termed “unlawful behavior” in blocking the interstate.
“My hope is, as a result of this tragedy, protesters will reconsider their desire to be on the interstate because I cannot guarantee their safety, plain and simple,” Mead said.
Protesters were on the freeway for more than an hour before the car drove around the blockade around 1:36 a.m., Mead said.
The state patrol tweeted out two pictures of the driver’s car, a white Jaguar with significant damage to its bumper and windshield.
Seattle police tweeted that they were assisting with the scene, as southbound lanes of the freeway remained closed for investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.