On a sunny winter afternoon in Seattle, a kid I’ll call “Marcus” was walking home from middle school.

He was with his classmate and good friend. Marcus’ grandmother dropped the boys off to get a soda; they would walk the familiar route home together.

At a street corner, the boys waited to cross.

An oncoming car slowed and stopped.

As Marcus walked past the stopped car, a van slammed into him.

Marcus was taken to Harborview Medical Center with brutal, life-threatening injuries. His brothers came to the hospital to say their good-byes because of his condition.

Multiple-threat crash:  

one vehicle on a multi-lane street stops for a pedestrian to cross,

then another vehicle coming from the same direction strikes the pedestrian.



Via Slate: How Did the Pedestrian Cross the Road?


In the months after the crash, Marcus’ family was struggling to get answers. The community rallied around to support them, and held several town hall meetings. 

They were worried about their child’s future, but, also about the dangerous street crossing where he was hurt—where many pedestrians crossed the road every day.

They contacted me to help them investigate. 

We researched the history of collisions on that street, the traffic and pedestrian flow. 

We talked to people who lived in the neighborhood: most were openly angry about the intersection.

As it turns out, they were absolutely right to be angry.

“No safe place to cross” 

We had experts and traffic engineers assess the 5-lane street crossing used by Marcus and others (including kids and elderly neighbors.)

The determination: the street was so badly designed that there was no reasonably safe place to cross.

It put pedestrians in danger every single day. 

On behalf of Marcus and his parents, we prepared a pedestrian injury case against the van driver—and the City of Seattle.


Drivers who obey the law and stop for pedestrians could actually put people in danger of being hit by a car in the next lane—a multiple-threat crash.


Finding justice for Marcus

The van driver’s insurance company agreed to pay the maximum insurance policy limits, which was the right thing to do.

The City of Seattle hotly contested the family’s claim about the dangerous intersection.

Eventually, the Washington State Court of Appeals had to review the issues in the case. The Court’s decision was favorable for Marcus.

Ultimately, the City of Seattle agreed to a settlement rather than push on to trial.

In addition to Marcus’ parents, many in the community shared information and st