One dead and one still hospitalized after car crashes into protesters on I-5

One of two people struck by a car on I-5 while protesting in Seattle early Saturday morning has died. 

Summer Taylor, 24, passed away and the other victim Diaz Love, 32, remains in serious condition in the ICU at Harborview Medical Center. Taylor and Love were protesting with a group of people on I-5 early Saturday morning when a man drove a car through the crowd, hitting Taylor and Love. 

Officials with Harborview Medical Center said Taylor, who had been in critical condition throughout the day, died Saturday night. Love is still hospitalized in serious condition, but as of Sunday evening was improving.

Washington State Patrol said a 27-year-old man drove a white Jaguar onto a closed freeway in Seattle early Saturday and barreled through a panicked crowd of protesters.

WSP has released the man's name, but Q13 is not identifying him beause he has yet to be charged.

The man drove the car around vehicles that were blocking I-5 and sped into the crowd at about 1:40 a.m., according to a police report released by the Washington State Patrol. Video taken at the scene by protesters showed people shouting “Car! Car!” before fleeing the roadway.

One of the people hit was filming the protest in a nearly two-hour-long Facebook livestream captioned “Black Femme March takes I-5” when the video ended abruptly; with about 15 seconds left, shouts of “Car!” can be heard as the camera starts to shake before screeching tires and the sound of impact are heard.

A graphic video posted on social media showed the vehicle racing toward the group of protesters who are standing behind several parked cars, set up for protection. The car swerves around the other vehicles and slams into the two people, sending them flying into the air.

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

Troopers arrived and the driver was put in custody, Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said.

Officials are trying to determine the motive as well as where he got onto the interstate, which had been closed by the state patrol for more than an hour before the two individuals were hit. Mead said they suspect the man drove the wrong way on a ramp. Trooper Rick Johnson said the driver went through a barrier that closed the freeway before striking both of the protesters.

The driver was taken into custody, Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said. He was booked into the King County Correctional Facility at 7:24 a.m. Saturday on two counts of vehicular assault. Bail was denied. It was not immediately clear if the man had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

The driver is expected in court on Monday afternoon. Troopers did not know whether it was a targeted attack, but impairment was not considered a factor, Mead said

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan added condolesces in a Twitter post to the victims, family and friends involved in the incident early Saturday morning, stating it as a "horrific event".

Durkan also noted that no person should have to risk their life, "demanding better from our city, state and country" in an additional post. 

Seattle has been the site of prolonged unrest following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide protests. Dozens of people were arrested this past week in connection with protests as demonstrations continue after authorities cleared the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” zone Wednesday morning.

Mead said at the press conference that protesters had shut down the interstate for 19 days in a row. He emphasized that the freeway is “simply not a safe place” for pedestrians, and said he hoped protesters would cease what he termed “unlawful behavior” in blocking the interstate.

Washington State Patrol announced protesters will no longer be permitted to enter I-5, and any pedestrian on the freeway will be arrested.

“My hope is, as a result of this tragedy, protesters will reconsider their desire to be on the interstate because I cannot guarantee their safety, plain and simple,” Mead said.

Protesters were on the freeway for more than an hour before the car drove around the blockade around 1:36 a.m., Mead said.

The state patrol tweeted out two pictures of the driver’s car with significant damage to its bumper and windshield.

Seattle police tweeted that they were assisting with the scene, as southbound lanes of the freeway remained closed for investigation.