July 5 (UPI) — One person died and another was injured after a driver plowed into a group or protesters on a closed stretch of Interstate 5 in Seattle, officials said.
Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle, died Saturday night at Harborview Medical Center, after the incident in the early morning, said hospital spokesperson Susan Gregg. Diaz Love, 32, was in serious condition in the intensive-care unit Saturday night.
Taylor and Love had livestreamed video from protests in recent weeks.
“Summer has been there since Day One standing up for Black lives. Staying out all day and night, while still working full time taking care of animals,” Katelyn Hoberecht, who worked with Taylor at the Urban Animal veterinary clinics, told the Seattle Times. “Summer talked me about the protests, and how incredible it was to be a part of something so huge. A part of history.”
The incident occurred during one of the nightly protests against police brutality and racism for the past month.
Just after 1:30 a.m., a white sedan sped into the crowd north of the Olive Way overpass, careening into at least two protesters in a scene captured by journalists livestreaming the demonstration.
The driver, Dawit Kelete, 27, of Seattle, was booked into King County Jail on Saturday morning on investigation of felony vehicular assault. Kelete drove the wrong way on the Stewart Street off-ramp to enter the interstate. Troopers don’t believe impairment was a factor.
“The driver was reserved and appeared sullen throughout his time in custody,” the probable-cause statement said. “At one point he asked if the injured pedestrians were okay.”
Protesters will no longer be allowed on the interstate, Washington State Patrol announced Saturday night.
“Blocking a freeway is a crime and no longer are we going to enable that criminal conduct to continue,” said State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead, who made the decision to no longer close the interstate. “We are not going to be allowing protesters to access the freeway unimpeded, and there are consequences for criminal conduct.”
Shortly before midnight Friday, State Patrol closed both directions of I-5 along downtown Seattle when it appeared protesters would enter the roadway. Troopers and personnel from the Washington State Department of Transportation used their vehicles to block on-ramps between Interstate 90 and Highway 520, State Patrol spokesperson Chase Van Cleave said.
The crowd had been dancing to the Cupid Shuffle moments before the car struck the demonstrators, videos show.
“It was a festive environment,” said Aaron, a protester who didn’t want his last name used out of concern for his safety told the Seattle Times.