Seattle, WA – One of two Black Lives Matter protesters who were hit by a vehicle as they were blocking a section of Interstate 5 on Saturday has died, according to a hospital spokesperson (video below).
According to a Washington State Patrol (WSP) police report, the collision occurred at approximately 1:40 a.m. on July 4, when a man behind the wheel of a white Jaguar drove around several vehicles that were blocking the interstate, the Associated Press reported.
Video footage showed protesters scrambling out of the roadway as the Jaguar drove towards the group, slamming into two of them.
The force of the impact threw 24-year-old Summer Taylor and 32-year-old Diaz Love into the air.
The driver, later identified as 27-year-old Dawit Kelete, sped away from the scene, but was intercepted about a mile later after one of the other demonstrators chased him down with his vehicle and pulled in front of him, blocking his escape, WSP Trooper Chase Van Cleave told the Associated Press.
Kelete, who is black, was taken into custody on two counts of vehicular assault.
The WSP had closed the stretch of interstate over an hour before the deadly collision.
According to WSP Captain Ron Mead, investigators believe Kelete may have driven the wrong way onto an off-ramp to access the interstate before he traveled around the barrier.
Capt. Mead said that the suspect was not impaired at the time of the incident, and that investigators do not yet know if it was a targeted attack, the Associated Press reported.
“The driver was reserved and appeared sullen throughout his time in custody,” a probable cause affidavit read, according to The Seattle Times. “At one point he asked if the injured pedestrians were okay.”
Taylor, who used “them” and “they” pronouns, died at Harborview Medical Center on Saturday night, a University of Washington Medicine spokesperson told The New York Times.
Love, who also uses “them” and “they” pronouns, remains hospitalized in serious condition, according to the spokesperson.
Taylor and Love are both Portland residents, according to the Associated Press.
On Saturday evening, the WSP announced it will no longer permit demonstrators to block the interstate, The Seattle Times reported.
“Blocking a freeway is a crime and no longer are we going to enable that criminal conduct to continue,” Capt. Mead confirmed. “We are not going to be allowing protesters to access the freeway unimpeded, and there are consequences for criminal conduct.”
“Whether they’re protesters, whether they’re homeless, whether they’re broken down motorists, the freeway is simply not a safe place for pedestrians and we’ve said that steadfast,” he added, according to CNN. “My hope is the result of this tragedy, the protesters will reconsider their desire to be on the interstate because I cannot guarantee their safety, plain and simple.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a tweet that Taylor and Love were “peacefully protesting” when they were hit.
“No one should risk their life for demanding better from our city, state and country,” Durkan wrote. “Our city stands beside their friends, families and loved ones in praying for these women and all who were there.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content: