Seattle protester dies, another seriously injured after being struck by car on closed highway

A 24-year-old Seattle protester died Saturday night after the protester and another person were hit by a car that drove onto a closed interstate where demonstrators were gathered to denounce police brutality and racism.

Summer Taylor was struck by the vehicle and hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, according to Washington State Patrol Captain Ron Mead. Taylor later died from the injuries.

Diaz Love, 32, from Bellingham, remained in serious condition in intensive care.

The driver, Dawit Kelete, 27, from Seattle, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, The Associated Press reported. Bail was denied. It’s unclear if the collision was a targeted attack, authorities said.

The driver, who was alone, fled the scene after hitting the protesters, Trooper Chase Van Cleave told The Associated Press. One of the protesters jumped into a car and chased the driver for about a mile. He was able to stop him by pulling his car in front of the protester’s car, Van Cleave said.

The interstate was closed just before midnight Friday due to another round of protests sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Mead said the protesters entered the interstate around 12:17 a.m., and just after 1:30 a.m. a white car drove onto the roadway and struck two of them.

A video posted on Twitter showed the car traveling down the road and driving past three parked vehicles before barreling toward the protesters. People are seen on the video scrambling to get out of the way but the vehicle strikes two of them.

A photo released by police showed the car with front-end damage and a cracked windshield.

“We do not know exactly where the vehicle came on but we suspect he came on the wrong way, on a ramp. He did not come through one of the closure points that we had posted,” the captain said, adding that officers do not believe driver impairment was a factor.

“We don’t know at this point of the investigation what the motive was, what the reasoning was,” Mead said.

Washington State Police said they would no longer allow protesters to gather on the interstate following Taylor’s death.

“For the safety of all citizens including protesters and motorists, pedestrians walking on the freeway will be arrested,” police said in a tweet Saturday night.