NEWS
06/07/2020 8:17 AM AEST

1 Dead After Car Hits 2 Seattle Protesters On Closed Freeway

A 27-year-old man was taken into custody for the early morning incident that left a second person hospitalised.

One person is dead and a second remains hospitalized after a car drove onto a closed section of highway and sped into a group of people protesting against police brutality in Seattle early on Saturday.

Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle was pronounced dead at Harborview Medical Center while Diaz Love, a 32-year-old from Portland, Oregon, was hospitalized in critical condition following the incident, according to a police spokesperson.

Love’s condition was later changed to serious, a hospital spokeswoman told HuffPost.

The driver, 27-year-old Dawit Kelete of Seattle entered I-5 by swerving his car around vehicles that had been blocking the roadway around 1:40 a.m., according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press.

Graphic video of the incident shows two figures being struck by a white Jaguar sedan and thrown into the air, landing hard on the pavement.

After hitting the two people, Kelete fled the scene but was stopped by a protester who chased him down in their own vehicle, Trooper Chase Van Cleave told AP. 

Kelete was described as “reserved and sullen” in court documents. He did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of his arrest and he inquired about the condition of the two victims, troopers said. He was booked into the King County Correctional Facility on two counts of vehicular assault and denied bail, online records show.

Love had been live-streaming the demonstration, which was billed as “Black Femme March Takes I-5,” when the car struck, ending their stream on Facebook abruptly. In the moments before, people can be heard yelling “car” in increasingly panicked tones. 

Sections of the highway have been frequently closed off because of protests, according to a local ABC affiliate.  

Trooper Rick Johnson, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, tweeted two photos of the car, which showed damage to its front grille and windshield.

“We don’t know if it’s a targeted attack, but that remains the focus of our investigation,” Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said in an early morning news conference.

State highway officials later announced that protesters will no longer be allowed on the interstate and anyone seen walking on it will be arrested.

The brutal incident comes two days after authorities shut down an area of Seattle that had been claimed by protesters as a police-free encampment dubbed the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. The zone lasted nearly a month until a series of violent attacks ramped up pressure to dissolve it.