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Community mourns death of Jesse Gurnett and looks for solutions on Lake City Way

Article written by Janine Blaeloch, a leader with Lake City Greenways, SNG’s local chapter in the neighborhood. 

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                                             Candy holds a picture of her son Jesse.

 

On March 29, 2019, 32-year-old Jesse Gurnett, a lifelong Lake City resident, was struck by a speeding driver in the crosswalk at NE 127th Street and Lake City Way—on his way home, and just steps away from Value Village, where he worked. Jesse died the next day, devastating his family and friends. Loved by co-workers and customers for his unflagging positive attitude and his dancing skills (including an uncanny Michael Jackson dance impression) he is sorely missed in Lake City and beyond.

 

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In collaboration with Jesse’s family, Lake City Greenways and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways organized a gathering on June 22 to memorialize Jesse and to honor him through a legacy of street safety for the community he left behind. We gathered at the main plaza in Lake City for some words from family and friends, then walked the intersection where Jesse lost his life—bearing signs saying “Stop for Jesse,” “Brake for Humans,” “Families Crossing,” and other reminders for drivers passing through.

 

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Then we walked to a nearby church basement to talk about problems and solutions around pedestrian safety on Lake City Way, a state highway that is also our neighborhood street. Speed was on everyone’s mind; had the driver who hit Jesse been obeying the posted speed limit of 30 rather than an estimated 45 mph, the two might have seen each other—or Jesse might have survived his injuries.

 

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Ideas and aspirations sprang forth, and a plan began to take shape for bringing speed down to 20 mph in the commercial core of Lake City through both a speed-limit reduction and streetscape design. A Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) will also be proposed for the intersection where Jesse was hit and others nearby; LPIs give people a few seconds lead time with a “walk” signal before cars are allowed to go.

 

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                                                   Jason & child, relatives of Jesse.

 

Amplifying the passion of Jesse’s family and friends and the commitment of the Lake City community, we are confident that with energy and a strategic approach we will secure improvements on Lake City Way that will honor Jesse’s memory and his parents’ wish that his death will not have been in vain.

If you want to get involved with making safer streets in Lake City, email Clara@seattlegreenways.org.