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2-year-old killed in Redmond was 2nd toddler in a week to die on a King County street

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 12.06.21 PMSusie Dreher “was a uniquely joyful human from the moment she emerged,” according to a piece of writing no family should ever need to craft: An obituary for their two-year-old killed in traffic.

We offer her family our deepest condolences.

Susie was killed when she ran from a play area in the Redmond Town Center shopping area. A 25-year-old driving east on NE 75th Street struck her at the intersection of 164th Ave NE. Redmond Police said in a release that their “investigation reveals the driver did not have an opportunity to see the child or to stop in time.”

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The intersection where the collision occurred, from Google Street View.
The intersection where the collision occurred, from Google Street View.

The tragedy came just days after a four-year-old was killed in an Issaquah crosswalk.

The deaths of toddlers are not acceptable costs for our current transportation system. Deaths and serious injuries in traffic are preventable.

Our youngest and oldest neighbors are the most vulnerable to the dangers of our traffic system. We’ve known this for a long time, yet we continue to delay in taking drastic action to invest in safety for people of all modes and all ages and abilities.

It’s long overdue for Eastside communities (and communities all around the state, for that matter) to adopt and fund Vision Zero goals. Just because Seattle has been so slow to adequately fund its traffic safety plans doesn’t mean other communities should delay, too.

We have the power to shape our streets and public spaces to put people and safety first. It’s time to community leaders to step up and use it. Children are dying. Susie and Haochen were not the first. And if we continue to do nothing, they won’t be the last.

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26 responses to “2-year-old killed in Redmond was 2nd toddler in a week to die on a King County street”

  1. LC

    The fact is that a two year old is incapable of moving at a speed at which a person operating an automobile would be unable to stop in time. This is clearly a case of negligent driving and the Redmond police are covering for the driver so as to reinforce a deadly status quo. This is truly insanity.

    1. Joe Johnston

      A news report pertaining to this exact accident showed that it’s practically impossible to see a child the size of a two year old from within about 15-17 feet. If he/she was coming to a stop at the stop sign and the child darted in front of the car within that blind zone it wouldn’t matter how fast he was going.

      I’m also not surprised to come on here and see that the first comment automatically blames negligence. Accidents do happen. It is not always negligence. This seems like it was one of those cases to me.

      Just like we think people are too quick to excuse car “accidents” as anything else but “accidents” I’ve also noticed that there is a tendency by some on these comments to label every accident as “obvious negligence”.

      1. Joe Johnston

        Meant for that second “accidents” to read negligence.

  2. Brian

    While Vision Zero may have an impact, I wish that local planners (particularly on the eastside) would consider actual VISION in their designs. Everywhere around here there are roads with trees and bushes in medians (that various pedestrians love to illegally cross through rather than going to a crosswalk) and trees and other growth right next to the road (such as in the picture in this article) that obstructs signs, obstructs pedestrians, and generally makes it much more difficult to be aware while driving/biking regardless of what speed you’re going.

    1. Jeremy

      Removing vegetation and clearing sightlines leads to “no, it’s okay, go fast!” and the obvious consequence:


      As for expecting your fellow citizens to (however legally) divert to wherever the nearest (legal) crosswalk might be and to tap some (legal) beg button to maybe get a (legal) green in a cycle or two, yeah, no. Ain’t gonna happen. The Dutch recognition of this reality is the woonerf, among other accommodations to those who walk. The American?


      Check out the fenced stroad! Take that, you would-be walkers!

  3. Matthew

    Young children should never be allowed near traffic areas. They move quickly, unpredictably, and are too small to easily see. This is not the fault of the driver or the traffic system. Tragedies like this will only be prevented by keeping kids out of harms way. It is part of a larger problem we have in America where we continuously put children in situation where they do not belong, from coffee shops to busy traffic areas, and experience ct them to act like adults. We set our children up to fail and then they are punished or otherwise harmed when they do fail.

    1. Andres Salomon

      Huh? So we should keep small children out of cities, then? Or have child quarantine zones? Do parents no longer deserve to get coffee from their local coffee shop? Should they just stay inside for the first 5 years of their child’s life?

      Children are part of a healthy, livable city. The problem here is not children; it’s that we have designed our cities for fast-moving vehicles instead of people.

      1. JHM


        You are either young, niece and haven’t had children yet, or you’re one of those spoiled, entitled millennials that we keep reading about who thinks they “Deserve” whatever they want, whenever they want it.


        Did that child “Deserve” to have a parent who chose coffee over it’s safety? Newsflash; having kids isn’t always fun. Your needs take second place, period. That’s called being a parent. If she couldn’t have waited for that coffee, she should have taken her child inside with her, instead of leaving her outside, unsupervised. Had she done so, like a responsible parent, this wouldn’t be a story. It’s the mothers fault, and her fault alone. Everything else that happened was a direct result on her not supervising her child. “The problem here”, is that she chose coffee over her kid.

      2. Andres Salomon

        ..what the hell are you talking about? No one died because of a coffee shop. OP was saying that kids don’t belong in coffee shops AT ALL.

      3. JHM

        Quote – Andres Salomon says: “what the hell are you talking about? No one died because of a coffee shop. OP was saying that kids don’t belong in coffee shops AT ALL.”

        Not sure what discussion you are part of, but the one I’m participating in is clearly in regards to who’s at fault and why.

    2. Josh

      Small children should not be allowed to easily run into traffic, but that’s not the same as saying they should never be near traffic.

      Play areas should have fences, lines of benches, hedges, walls… something that helps parents keep children within the play area by limiting access.

      At some point, children have to get into cars, so clearly, there have to be facilities where children approach cars. But much can be done to make that safer than the average city street.

    3. Matthew, I don’t have a comment about this particular case, but American society has effectively done what you asked for, and unfortunately it’s been an unmitigated disaster we are still trying to fix.

      In one generation:
      >Standards for street design were copied from highway construction affecting even the most urban parts of our cities.
      >Roads that were designed for walking and trolleys were systematically widened and straightened to become more like highways.
      >Walking, biking, and taking transit were consistently made unattractive through reductions in right of way allocation, a card-oriented built environment, and systematic underfunding of infrastructure that continues to this day.
      >Cars went from being a beacon of modern freedom to the only way to practically get around.
      >Parents now have to spend more time than any time in human history helping children navigate a built environment that is hostile to them.
      >We went from 50% of kids walking or biking to school to 15%.
      >The freedom of kids to travel and play around their neighborhood has steadily shrunk overtime due to concerned parents about social and traffic safety.
      >Childcare costs have become extremely burdensome for working families.
      >Childhood overweight/obesity and has gone 8% to 30%.
      >Parents are literally being investigated and fined by police for letting their kids walk home from school or the park.

      We are living in the future you are envisioning, and it’s failing all of us. It’s time to try something different.

  4. SGG

    This is absolutely tragic, but let’s not make this even more tragic by politicizing this to support preconceived values. No amount of design or litigation will prevent something like this.

    1. Josh

      Complete prevention? No, there’s always some element of risk.

      But if you’re designing an explicit “play area” near a street, some level of intentional restriction on pedestrian travel makes it much easier for parents to keep children under control.

      Open perimeters are for adults and children old enough to be trusted around traffic.

      When I had twin toddlers in tow, I loved play areas where the designer had the forethought to restrict access to a few well-designed chokepoints. It might make people walking through the facility detour slightly, but it makes life much safer and less stressful for people actually using the facility as a play area.

    2. Tom Fucoloro

      That’s the exact problem I’m talking about. We CAN prevent traffic deaths an injuries. In the Netherlands, a nation of 16.8 million people (more than double the population of Washington State), very few children die in traffic these days: http://www.swov.nl/rapport/Factsheets/UK/FS_Road_fatalities.pdf

      But this was not always true, as you can see in the 2nd graph on page 4 in that document. In 1974, 450 children were killed in traffic. Today, that annual number hovers just below ten. In 2013, only four children in the Netherlands died in traffic while walking. In just one week, King County reached half that many.

      This wasn’t an accident, and it didn’t happen because people threw up their hands and said, “There’s nothing we can do!”

      What changed was that people stood up and demanded an end to a traffic system that was killing children (their call was “Stop the Child Murder”). And their national government listened and responded, shifting funding for highway expansions into safe streets for everyone.


  5. Harrison Davignon

    This is a very sad event. No mater how aware a 2 year is of there surroundings, they should not be anywhere near a cross walk or road by themselves. A 2 year is not fully aware of there surroundings and really short and hard to see. Kids that are 7 years old or older, that have spacial awareness should the only age groups to be near a street by themselves. Part of this too is were still making infrastructure for the car, because more oil use, equals more money.

  6. Dave

    The Dutch people have the imagination, courage, and intelligence that Americans lack in willing to NOT be slaves to automobile use. What is it going to take–maybe ISIS taking out the Saudi royal family, siezing the oil fields, and jacking our gasoline up to $12/gallon to slow us down?

    1. Harrison Davignon

      This is a accident that can happen anywhere to anyone. My parents paid close attention to me and my sister and I managed to wander off on my own and I was 5 years old. Because of her small size and the fact she did not make a sound, her parents probably didn’t have a clue she wandered off. She could get killed by a bicycle rider, skateboarder and other non motorized wheeled objects. Your right about automobile use in america, but this type of could happen anywhere in the world.

  7. Phil Miller

    RE Josh’s comment, this play area does indeed have a fence and limited access. While Redmond Town Center is by no means perfect, it was designed with slow vehicle speeds and high ped access as the norm for the middle of the development – indeed, the vehicle was decelerating and almost at a stop when the collision occurred. While I certainly put myself in the category of those who think our car culture and design traditions result in thousands of needless deaths and injuries, waving the flag on this tragedy troubles me. We will have Link hit pedestrians again – will our rhetoric be the same? If all our urban centers were designed to Town Center’s standards, the aggregate picture would be vastly different than todays. This data point is an outlier, sad to say. If anything, this horrific loss serves as a reminder of just how difficult and comprehensive the job of parenting can be.

  8. Patrick Taylor

    I work in Redmond Town Center.

    The traffic situation there is dangerous. I see “near misses” at least once a week.

    I can imagine how difficult it would be to see a child running out into the street if there were a lot of people there. Which there were. I know that there were because I was in the area that day. People and tables for coffee drinking and other kids running around and their parents standing with strollers and such make it very difficult to see what is happening in a play area that is only about 15 feet from the street and outside of the actual equipment area no fencing at all.

    It’s very believable that it wasn’t negligence. But also people speed in RTC a lot and that is a problem. Pedestrians, ADULTS, don’t pay attention, cross in unmarked areas while reading texts, and expect drivers to do all the heavy lifting. The ones that are speeding.
    It’s kind of chaotic is what I’m trying to explain. I’ve been thinking for years that it’s just a matter of time before someone is hurt.

    I feel like the whole community failed on this one. Police don’t crack down on speeders. Pedestrians don’t pay attention. Cyclists for the most part behave around RTC but there is the occasional idiot going 20 mph on the sidewalk. And it’s not planned very well with lots of distraction and no enforcement. People even ignore the no parking zones.

    I think the City of Redmond needs to step forward and insist that RTC traffic safety is improved. Improved visibility for drivers. Perhaps if this play area is kept then the whole surrounding area should be fenced off instead of a smaller part of it.

    The place is unsafe as it is and this will happen again if something isn’t done.

  9. JHM

    Unbelievable. The mother turned her back on her kid, who then wandered into traffic in a playground clearly with a traffic hazard, and once again, it’s everyone else fault. Incredible. Should there have been a barrier to prevent this? Probably. Could the driver have stopped in time? According to the investigation, not likely. Would the child still be alive had the mother kept an eye on here, absolutely. Now these people are suing the driver. Miserable.

  10. Duncan Watson

    There is a stop sign and a marked crosswalk where the child so-called “wandered” into. This is an area that is supposed to be pedestrian friendly. This isn’t the mother’s fault. This isn’t the child’s fault. This is the towns fault and the driver’s fault. Slow the driving down to 10mph, enforce the crosswalks and stop letting motorist get away with killing people in crosswalks.

    The various trolls who are here to shake their finger at pedestrians can eat my disdain.

    1. JHM

      “So called wandered”? You’re clearly not a parent. Children, even small children are fast. The car didn’t jump the curb into the crowd. The child walked/ran/crawled into the street. What world do you live in that you let small children run wild near a busy street, and leave their safety to a sign? The sign will not watch your child! That’s the RESPONSIBILITY of the parent! Not the sign, or anyone else.

      It absolutely IS the mothers fault. The second she decided that a coffee was more important than her kid, she became negligent.

      And as far as it being the “Drivers fault”;

      “Preliminary investigation reveals the 2 year old victim was near an outside seating area on the corner of NE 74 St and 164 Ave NE. The involved vehicle, driven by a 25 year old male from Kenmore, was eastbound on NE 74 St approaching the stop sign at 164 Ave NE, when the 2 year old suddenly ran out into the roadway as the driver was coming to a stop. Investigation reveals the driver did not have an opportunity to see the child or to stop in time.”

      Whoever was watching the child, stopped, and it ran into the street and was hit by a car slowing down for the posted sign.

      1. WDS12X%

        JSH, I think you missed the part about the driver being on meth and opiates. Still feel like defending him?

  11. […] has been a deadly year for children on Eastside city streets. In June, two-year-old Susie Dreher was killed in Redmond Town Center and four-year-old Haochen Xu was killed in a crosswalk in […]

  12. […] has been a deadly year for children on Eastside city streets. In June, two-year-old Susie Dreher was killed in Redmond Town Center and four-year-old Haochen Xu was killed in a crosswalk in […]

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