Thursday night just before 10 PM, yet another man fell from the walls above onto I-5 near the Convention Center, just below Capitol Hill. This victim was luckier than others. He fell only 10 feet, Seattle Fire says, and suffered only non-life threatening trauma.
The incident was the latest in a spate of similar falls in recent weeks along this stretch of I-5. Thursday night’s victim, like most of the others we are aware of, was headed to a camp on WSDOT property where homeless people set up and junkies shoot up along, above and under the freeway.
Earlier this month, a man fell near the same part of the I-5 express lane exit where Thursday night’s victim was injured. He fell 50 feet and died of his injuries after being rushed to the hospital.
It’s not clear if there is a measurable increase in incidents or just a return to awareness about the I-5 encampments. CHS has reported on similar falls in the past. Here’s an example from 2011 in which a woman survived her fall. In another 2011 incident, this man died trying to cross I-5 on foot.
There are regular sweeps involving WSDOT and Seattle authorities to clean up the camps. CHS reported on a past effort here. The Stranger reports that Seattle homeless sweeps are increasing. One takeaway could be that homeless people are driven to more dangerous camp areas when this kind of push is underway. CHS reported earlier this year about the increase in trespassing enforcement around Capitol Hill as the homeless population showed signs of shifting up from downtown. What’s it like living under I-5? One cop called it a “no man’s land populated by the homeless, mental cases.”
Structured camps have managed to find new places to provide shelter for some in the area. Earlier this month, Nickelsville moved its Central District tents to a new space on state land across from the Dearborn Goodwill. With permits for only dozens of residents, the camps present a solution for only a small fraction of the estimated 2,300 people living on Seattle’s streets.
Meanwhile, the proposal for the new City of Seattle budget includes millions to increase and restore homeless services as the infrastructure erodes elsewhere in the county and the state.