His name was Robert "Storm" Townsend, a 23-year-old delivery rider for Jimmy John's subs in the University District, and the circumstances around the fatal accident are "still under investigation," says Seattle Police Department sergeant Sean Whitcomb. The driver was not cited at the scene, no blame is immediately pending, and the final disposition could take months. "For us, this is as serious as a murder," Whitcomb says. "About the same amount of care and detail goes into this type of investigation."
Townsend's Facebook page includes links to several YouTube videos of what appears to be Townsend barreling fast down hills, cutting across lanes of traffic, and riding around the city (without a helmet, it appears), including this video described on Facebook as, "Robert doing skid stops in the Tubs parking lot":
Questions about whether he was occasionally a daredevil—or sometimes wore a helmet and sometimes didn't—are typical elements of the heated discussions that ensue after accidents like this one. But for now, the SPD is examining the facts immediately surrounding Saturday's accident. Was the light green for the cyclist? Did he have the right of way? "These are very serious investigations," says Whitcomb, "so we are not going to rush to one outcome until we have gathered as much information as possible."
"What people really need to do is drive carefully," he says. "And anyone who has been on the road knows that doesn't always happen—it doesn't matter if you're in a car or on a bike."
UPDATE: The cyclist likely had right of way southbound on University Way NE. We sent news intern Paul Holmes up to the intersection a few minutes ago to confirm that there are no "green arrow" lights that would give the Hyundai driver a free left turn onto Campus Parkway. Whitcomb confirms what most road users already know: "When two vehicles going the opposite direction have a green light, typically the one that is making a turn must yield to oncoming traffic." That said, Whitcomb continues, "We look at every situation as unique and independent and all the variable factors.