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Driver who sped through I-5 protest killing one charged with vehicular homicide

The driver who sped onto a closed I-5 during a Seattle Black Lives Matter protest, killing one and badly injuring another when he raced through the crowd of demonstrators, will be charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving, the King County Prosecutor announced Wednesday.

Prosecutors say 27-year-old Dawit Kelete tested sober after he crashed into and killed 24-year-old Summer Taylor and sent 32-year-old Diaz Love to the hospital with serious injuries. The Seattle man remains jailed on $1.2 million bail. He is scheduled to enter a plea on the charges in two weeks.

The charges indicate prosecutors and detectives do not have evidence that Kelete targeted the protest. “Additional charges may be added or amended based on the information that may be sent to our office from the ongoing investigation,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office reads.

Prosecutors say the investigation,is being handled by the Washington State Patrol and the FBI.

CHS reported on the July 4th, 1:30 AM collision after Kelete drove onto the closed freeway in a white Jaguar and sped toward the crowd, careening into Taylor and Love, and trying to race away before being arrested after he was stopped by a car in place to protect the protestors.

I-5 was closed to traffic by the Washington State Patrol that morning from I-90 to 520 around midnight as the nightly protest barricaded ramps and made its way onto the freeway after demonstrating outside the West Precinct.

According to reports from the scene, Seattle Police, and the Washington State Patrol, the 27-year-old driver raced onto the freeway and through the crowd at high speed. In the SPD report on the incident, detectives say Kelete drove the wrong way on the Stewart ramp to access the freeway north of the demonstration, turned right onto I-5 south and sped less than a quarter mile before ramming into the protesters. WSP said the driver was the sole occupant of the vehicle.

Though he passed a sobriety and breathalyzer test, prosecutors say Kelete said would be suffering withdrawal to a painkiller and suffers from addiction when he was being admitted to the King County Jail:

A WSP detective said a search of Kelete’s vehicle also yielded suspected drug paraphernalia and a substance believed to be meth:

Kelete’s criminal record includes minor offenses in Pullman. The charging document says Kelete is a full-time student who lives with his parents in South Seattle and works at a gas station.

CHS reported here on Taylor, a Capitol Hill resident who loved working with animals and was expressing joy and passion for social justice before they were struck and killed.

Friends and supporters, meanwhile, have so far raised more than $60,000 to help the 32-year-old Love with medical expenses, living expenses, and recovery costs.


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daniel_boring
daniel_boring
4 months ago

Hey I think you may have used the incorrect pronoun for Summer above. I believe they preferred they/them?

pork
pork
4 months ago

Why the fuck is this not 2nd degree murder?

Lina
Lina
4 months ago
Reply to  pork

There was likely no motive other than the driver wanting to get on the freeway. I think felony v.homicide can carry a life sentence but It’s highly unlikely he’ll serve more than a few years for that particular charge and maybe a few more for the others? It looks to have been an accident.

GG Palin
GG Palin
4 months ago
Reply to  Lina

You have to be joking…

“In the SPD report on the incident, detectives say Kelete drove the wrong way on the Stewart ramp to access the freeway north of the demonstration, turned right onto I-5 south and sped less than a quarter mile before ramming into the protesters.”

What about that implies an accident?? There have been like 50+ vehicle attacks in this country since the George Floyd protests began…this is fueled by hatred.

Glenn
Glenn
4 months ago
Reply to  Lina

GG, what are you suggesting this driver hated?

CD Neighbor
CD Neighbor
4 months ago
Reply to  Lina

mmmm more like it appears to be fueled by drugs, possibly the meth that was found in the car… or perhaps the Percocet that the driver told the jailers he’d be suffering withdrawals from…

Tony
Tony
4 months ago
Reply to  Lina

There absolutely have been car attacks, including here in Seattle. And the possibility that this was an attack should absolutely be investigated. But the video very clearly shows the guy braking the minute he passes the cars and sees the protesters.

I want him prosecuted and found guilty, but it doesn’t do any good to charge him with a crime that can’t be proven beyond reasonable doubt: in fact, it hurts the case against him.

Anoninseattle
Anoninseattle
4 months ago
Reply to  Lina

While certainly there have been deliberate car attacks on protesters fueled by hate, and while this certainly is a tragedy and hopefully deserving of more than a light slap on the wrist…

It does appear that in this instance this wasn’t a hate crime, increasingly it looks like this is the result of someone high out of their mind.

Doesn’t bring Summer back any more or make their loss any easier, but as a reminder to the media (and all of us) best to wait a bit for the facts before letting the narrative get ahead.

Lina Harvey
Lina Harvey
4 months ago

sad sad story for her, her friends and family. the driver isn’t exactly the right wing extremist with cohorts filming from the bushes as the organizers claim, though. seems more like a strung out fool who was impatient and got into an accident when he shouldn’t have been driving at all.

Nora
Nora
4 months ago

Someone do the math. If he was going 60 or 70mph and encountered the protesters less than a quarter mile after he got on the freeway, he had to be driving for mere seconds before he came upon them. You can see his brake lights in the video as he approaches the barricade-cars, then he swerves around those cars on the edge, swerves away from the larger group and back on to the traffic lanes, in to which unfortunately the 2 victims have run, then again tries to swerve which causes the car to turn almost sideways as it hits them. I think he was impatient, entitled, said “F this, I live 3 exits down” (he lives in “south Seattle”), I’m getting on this empty freeway and getting home. He travels a very short distance accelerating and bang! 3 lives ruined.

Mrchop
Mrchop
4 months ago

I’m still amazed that these protestors put their lives in the hands of state patrol effectively blocking I5. All it takes is one pissed motorist – and there are plenty who don’t want a 2 hour detour and grid lock and decide to go round the barriers….

Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
4 months ago

I think the WSP should have some blame for this horrendous incident. They should never have allowed the protesters on the freeway in the first place. They have since committed to just that, but it’s too late for Summer and Diaz.

Adam
Adam
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob Knudson

Our government apparently has no backbone to enforce the law until someone needlessly dies. See: CHOP

Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
4 months ago
Reply to  Adam

@FO….once again you are claiming I said things that I did not say. I have not criticized the protesters for “inconveniencing the public.”

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob Knudson

Gosh Bob, people should think better of slightly inconveniencing you when they are protesting for their rights. How selfish of them, they should be protesting out of sight!

This poor man was just trying to drive somewhere, as is his god given right, and should be exonerated and put back into a car immediately, as is tradition after vehicular homicide in our country.

Roger on Harvard
Roger on Harvard
4 months ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

You are the one with the entitled mentality, FO.

There is no reason whatsoever to be on the freeway. This does nothing to advance anyone’s “rights.” They were out there past midnight with no cars in sight or anybody else nearby. They were just chanting to hear themselves yell, there were out there all by themselves.

“Protesting for your rights” doesn’t give anyone a free pass to be a giant uncivil bafoon. I always here this “minor convenience” excuse as if everybody in their cars are just out driving for shiz ‘n giggles. How about the nurses needing to go to their shift to care for COVID patients or folks heading home with a small kid in their car who now has crap in their diaper and can’t get changed because they’re stuck in traffic?

“Oh, but I’m a *protestor* and my cause is *worthy* so everyone else’s lives have to revolve around *my* pet cause.”

Get over yourselves.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
4 months ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

Right, because in the events of human history, only non-disruptive protesting that doesn’t annoy the privileged people has ever accomplished anything.

“Excuse me Mr. Oppressor, I don’t mean to interrupt your very important life, but could you spare some basic human rights please?”

Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
4 months ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

@ fairly obvious: In your ongoing campaign to discredit me, you once again have put words in my mouth. I did not say that protesters should be hidden. But, other than occupying a major freeway, there are plenty of places where they can do their thing and be visible.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
4 months ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

Bob, you have a trail of comments this week that scold protestors for inconveniencing the general public. Do people belong on the freeway? No, but people also don’t deserve to be knelt on the neck until dead for suspicions of a $20 counterfeit bill, but here we are.

You’ve also managed in this comment to blame the WSP for the actions of a negligent driver. That’s like blaming the FAA for the 9/11 attacks.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
4 months ago

Sorry, missed this gem in your response, and it’s too silly not to respond:

How about the nurses needing to go to their shift to care for COVID patients or folks heading home with a small kid in their car who now has crap in their diaper and can’t get changed because they’re stuck in traffic?

Gosh, if this one protest, in that one spot, in the middle of the night, causes THAT much chaos , typical Seattle traffic must completely paralyze and shut down the city!

KinesthesiaAmnesia
KinesthesiaAmnesia
4 months ago
Reply to  Fairly Obvious

i5 shutdowns affect medical workers and lower income people who already can’t afford to live in this city. The i5 closures make them late for essential work on hospital and other night shifts and they’re paying more for gas and 99 tunnel fees to get around it. My cousin is a nursing assistant in dt and has panic attacks over this every time she drives in or out of town for her shifts and sees a SPD or WSP police car parked near a freeway ramp.