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Remember Lisa Vach

Lisa Vach (Image courtesy Sirena Ross)

She was kind, and funny, and an artist.

Lisa Vach died in Cal Anderson Park a week ago tonight, murdered by a man her life had become intertwined with. She was 38.

Remember Lisa Vach, please, friend and colleague Sirena Ross asks.

“She was extremely charming. One of those people who made you feel very at home as soon as you met her,” Ross tells CHS.

She and Vach met working together for Pioneer Square tourist institution Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. There, Vach ran the gift shop. Ross said Vach put her creativity and energy into overhauling the shop. That kind of energy to create also showed in another job Vach held down doing housekeeping for the bed and breakfast above the Merchant Cafe where she went beyond cleaning the rooms and took on redecorating the place.

Vach was also a fighter with a strong sense of justice who once confronted another employee over his abuse of a homeless woman, Ross said.

It is difficult to connect that life to the one that ended last Wednesday in Cal Anderson. CHS reported here on the domestic violence murder-suicide in which Vach was found assaulted. choked, and dying in the park and the police standoff with suspect Travis Berge ended with him dead inside the park’s reservoir pumphouse.

Vach’s time in Cal Anderson was much different than the times Ross describes. Vach was swept up in the July 1st raid on CHOP and the Cal Anderson camp, police records show, and booked — but never charged — for failure to disperse. She was known as a regular around the ongoing activist efforts to establish a mutual aid center and camp in the park.

But she and Berge also became known as a dangerous combination living in a mix of addiction and mental crisis amid the activism and camping. A person with knowledge of the situation described one terrible assault that came just a day prior to the deadly rampage that resulted in a volunteer being sent to the hospital.

Berge’s death, pulmonary edema inhalation of toxic fumes from the tank of chlorine bleach solution they found him inside in the pumphouse, and Berge’s life, notoriously arrested in King County around 50 times in the past seven years, made headlines across the country.

With the focus on his violent end, Vach’s death — and life — were mostly ignored.

A week after the terrible incident, WHEEL, a group advocating for homeless and formerly homeless women, stood vigil for Vach outside Seattle City Hall and marked the death of at least 11 homeless people they say have been killed by homicidal violence so far this year in the city. WHEEL says it was standing for Berge, too. “We mourn for both these lost souls, and their friends and families,” the group writes.

Cal Anderson, meanwhile, remains officially closed to the public since the July raid and through subsequent sweeps though activists, volunteers, and campers continue to return to the space along with the joggers and neighbors walking dogs. The city was driving a community design process to bring “public safety” changes and improvements even before the killing.

Ross wants more people to know about the times before Cal Anderson Park and the Vach she knew. “I hadn’t spoken to her in quite awhile, my last interaction I tried to get her to find housing in Tacoma but she wanted to stay in Seattle,” she posted about Vach to Reddit. “She had several potential housing situations. I thought she would be fine. She had a lot of close friends and she was smart. I do not know how Travis Berge entered her life.”

Ross said the last time she was in regular contact with her friend was last November and doesn’t know how to explain the months that followed after she tried to help Vach find housing but lost touch.

“She was a real person,” Ross said. “She wasn’t broken.”


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CityOfVagrants
CityOfVagrants
3 months ago

All you “progressives” have blood on your hands. Instead of having consequences you kept enabling this insane drug addict and it resulted in this innocent women’s murder.

Tom
Tom
3 months ago
Reply to  CityOfVagrants

Oh look, a right winger suddenly cares about the life of a homeless.

As if you people want to fund life-long mental health treatment anyway.

DS
DS
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Plenty of us who agree that so called progressives have blood on their hands DO want to fund life-long mental health treatment. I’m for housing, mental health care, medical care and free college. I also believe that the left has long claimed the moral high ground while actually making no effort whatsoever to be accountable for the graft and useless programs that help no one. To demand that our money go to something that produces results. Instead the left just virtue signals while leaving people to rot in tents, dying of their drug addiction and in full mental health collapse. The right judges, the left virtue signals, and neither actually works to get ANYTHING accomplished to help people. So how is one side any less terrible than the other?

JR
JR
3 months ago
Reply to  Tom

The right does actually participate more in helping the less fortunate on a individual basis (i.e. churches), plenty of studies on this. The left opts to address the issues through government instead. So in a sense the right is actually more engaged and the left has other things to do, but probably would scale better as government policy.

Danja
Danja
1 month ago
Reply to  JR

Churches? You mean the same churches that move sexual abusers around that prey on the vulnerable like the homeless?

Carlos
Carlos
3 months ago
Reply to  CityOfVagrants

The downfall of the intellectual slanting politics is they don’t fight for what’s right. It’s all just a concepts, but there’s no deep understanding that arises. It’s just concepts borne from a hollow heart. Plenty has been written about these types in Asia for millenia, it’s not new. He right wing politics may be just be idiots, but they are right you guys have to grow a pair and treat wrong as worth and right as right.

Crow
Crow
3 months ago
Reply to  CityOfVagrants

From a Seattle Times article, this guy had a 8+ month jail stint this past year before his recent release back to the streets. Too bad they couldn’t indefinitely involuntarily commit him.

Darcy Hanson
Darcy Hanson
3 months ago

Lisa worked for me at Merchants. I should have done more. Beautiful girl

aj
aj
2 months ago
Reply to  Darcy Hanson

Thank you for remembering her Darcy. Many people feel like we should have done more… But now what we can do is remember her and keep her spirit present.

Irving
Irving
27 days ago
Reply to  Darcy Hanson

Yes Darcy
You should have. Instead you choose to be judgemental, critical, just add you were to me. I hope these choices haunt you everyday for the rest of your life.

Aaron
Aaron
1 month ago

This was actually my friend. Not just same name on a list, but an actual person with actual feelings and an actual heart beat… and some man decided to end all that. Some man who could of been red flagged, some man who had been arrested 50times in the past. I blame the police and the lack of aid needed to be given to the homeless, mental health and all.

Genevieve Tullos
Genevieve Tullos
26 days ago

Travis was my friend. We called him Traveltron. I didn’t know Lisa, but I do know that Trav was a very lonely guy who figured he’d always be alone so it shocks me that he would hurt someone who actually wanted to be close to him. My heart goes out to his family, who I know got to see the real Travis, he’s back again.