A week and a half after a bad bike crash along the First Hill Streetcar route, Desiree McCloud passed away Tuesday.
We send our deepest condolences to her friends and family.
A message on a fundraising page set up to support her and her recovery announced the sad news late Tuesday. Any funds beyond her funeral costs will be donated to the Girl Scouts, where Desiree was a troop leader:
As many of you probably heard, Desiree passed away this morning. I want to thank everyone who donated here; the amount of love and support shown here and elsewhere was amazing. Thank you.
As promised, the funds you donated here will be used to pay medical bills, help cover the costs of her funeral, and any remainder will be donated to the Girl Scouts.
Her friend Greg describes Desiree as an “amazing person and a great friend.” From an email to Seattle Bike Blog (see many more notes at the bottom of this post):
I learned to enjoy what life has to offer in ways I never would have if not for her. She was always ambitious, optimistic, and fearless in everything she did. She would do what she wanted, how she wanted, when she wanted and was never deterred by failure. She was quick to welcome new friends into her social circle without precondition.
Desiree regularly organized group day-hikes, large group camping trips, and social gatherings for her friends. She was also a Girl Scout troop leader and active at the Service Unit level. She loved Game of Thrones, Dr. Who, and all things Star Wars – she even had a Star Wars tattoo.
Desiree had a degree in Behavioral Neuroscience and worked in Bio Research. She had dreams of working at the Paul Allen Institute for Brain Science. She had recently gotten back into cycling for fitness and was excited about the improvements she was seeing in her endurance.
According to the police report, Desiree was biking with friends westbound on Yesler Way approaching 13th Ave S in front of Bailey Gatzert Elementary May 13 when she crashed while passing one of her friends on the left. A friend told police Desiree started wobbling and fell hard, perhaps because of the streetcar tracks in the lane adjacent to the bike lane.
SPD’s Traffic Collision team is investigating.
Though Desiree is the first person we know of to die while biking along the First Hill Streetcar route since it was built about a year ago, several people have been seriously injured. Though it’s not currently certain that the tracks caused this crash, it is a very common cause of such crashes both along the First Hill and South Lake Union Streetcar routes.
In June, Daniel Ahrendt crashed on the streetcar tracks at 14th and Jackson, just three blocks from where Desiree went down.
Like Desiree, Daniel had moved to the left to pass someone (in his case a stopped bus). His wheel hit the tracks and he fell, then the bus ran over him and seriously injured him.
UPDATE: A note from her friend Michelle:
Des was an amazing human being who created a whole community in Seattle. She was was an integral part of welcoming me when I arrived here three years ago.
She was always there to help someone in need. From helping her friends change out their wardrobes because she thought they lacked fashion sense to rescuing friends from the Midwest and helping them find jobs in Seattle. She was always there for us. She volunteered with the Girl Scouts as a troop leader and service unit manager. She taught Magic: The Gathering to many people with the Lady Planeswalkers Society at our weekly meet ups and at conventions across the region. She was ferociously intelligent and would debate you about anything and everything.
And her friend Tifa:
Today I lost a very dear friend. Desiree McCloud made a huge impact on everyone around her. She made a huge impact on The Lady Planeswalkers Society in many ways, being an active member and volunteer. She made a huge impact on me. I loved and appreciated how real she was. You always knew exactly how she felt and could always ask her for an opinion knowing you’d get an honest answer. I really loved that. She was so strong and confident and beautiful. I admired her for that. Desiree and I shared a lot of the same values about the importance of opportunities for young girls to get into things like science, tech, and gaming. The world will miss her inspiration, spirit, and the influence she made. I will miss her. I will miss her laugh, her face, her attitude. I will miss having her help, I will miss playing games with her, I will miss her friendship. R.I.P. Desiree.
Desiree was incredibly active and vocal about the things she was passionate about — science, feminism, and making the world a better place for everyone. Like most Seattleites, she was an avid hiker and bicyclist, and a loyal patron of numerous local breweries. She cared about her community, volunteering countless hours with the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. And she cared about her friends. I’m grateful to have known her and called her my friend.
Half of knowing Desiree was seeing the happiness in your friends when she was present. And she was present, a constant, stalwart friend in all of our lives. So much so that I never imagined a camping trip, board game, beer fest, comic con, or cat adoption without her. I never thought any of our friends would make a decision that she thought was stupid without hearing her say so. I never thought we would conquer some new goal without hearing her toast us. I never thought there would be a move a project or some terrible time when we needed her help without seeing her. I never thought I would find a great cider or take a great picture of my cat and not be able to show it to her.
UPDATE: Emails keep coming in. It’s amazing how many other lives one person can touch.
The world is a darker place today. This morning my dear friend and housemate Desiree McCloud passed away from injuries previously mentioned.
We went on a couple of dates around the time I first moved to Seattle. We didn’t quite click romantically but we got along really well and I happened to live above a bar she went to with friends every week, so she invited me to come along. I showed up once or twice and had a good time but was in a pretty dark place and had a difficult time getting out of my apartment. But over the next year or so, despite not talking much between, she popped up periodically. She’d invite me to some event, usually when I happened to be struggling with something or other. Thanksgiving, camping.
This picture was from almost exactly one year ago, when she invited me to an annual Memorial Day camping trip. It was after that camping trip that I finally realized I belonged with these people and really believed I could make a home in Seattle. Later that summer she invited me to move in with her and Mikey, with Jaki rounding out the group.
So really without knowing it, Des had a profoundly positive effect on my mental health and depression the past couple of years. I only wish I could have made that more clear to her.
You made a family here, you brought us together, and we love you for it Des. Take it easy.
My dear friend Desiree was in a bike accident a week and a half ago. Since then, she was in the ICU in critical condition. Things were not looking good, but we were optimistic until this morning. She passed away, still unconscious.
I am not the only person distraught by this, not even close. But I am very much not okay, and I don’t know when I will be. Losing a friend is never easy (she said, understating things).
She loved hiking and her Girl Scout troop. She was loving to her friends and brash at almost all times. She had aspirations to work at the Allen Institute, and I enjoyed hearing her stories of working with lab rats and their brains.
She also just really loved rats. When we played Magic, or a new Magic set came out, she only cared about one thing and only asked me one question: “Alli, am I going to like this set?” This meant exactly “Are there any cool cards with the Rat creature type in this set?” She was the only person I know saddened by Pack Rat rotating out of Standard.
We had a running gag, where I would hit on her every time we saw each other. The one time I didn’t, she thought I was sick. And she really worried about me then. I never actually had romantic feelings for her, but I did love her as a dear friend. And I take solace in the fact that she knew that unambiguously.
A week before the accident, a mutual friend, the boy she liked, and I went hiking with her. At the summit of Oyster Dome, I took this. It’s not the greatest picture of her, but it was the last.
I don’t know where else to eulogize her. She had some pretty negative feelings about religion as a whole, so I won’t offer any prayers. Instead, I’ll settle for this, and I will never forget my friend.
I miss you, Des. Always will.
Desiree started Girl Scout Troop 42071 a couple of years. It was something she had been talking about for a while. When she was young, she was upset her Girl Scout troop didn’t do as much as her brother’s Boy Scouts troop. And so, her intention was to have a troop that went hiking, camping, learned to build fires, and was very much girl-driven. She always made sure the girls voted on the badges they wanted to work on and was always open to their ideas.
Not happy with just running her troop, she then decided to become the Service Unit Manager for our area (Service Unit 530). As part of this role, she managed troops in our area (I believe it was about 90 troops but I can get an exact number if needed), helped coordinate cookie sales, and planned events. The most recent event she planned was a blanket making party where all the blankets were donated to the Seattle Children’s Hospital. She told me she wanted to be involved in GS for the rest of her life.
I was one of her fellow troop leaders and I would often get emails late into the night outlining the Girl Scout plans for the next few weeks. She loved doing it and coming up with fun activities. she encourage the girls to get along and talk about their conflicts. She encouraged their curiosity for science and answered their questions as best she could.
UPDATE: And Aaron:
I met Desiree just over a year ago, she was one of the first friends I made when I moved to Seattle. She was an amazing person. From talking with her about science and politics and girl scouts, to going camping and hiking, she made me feel welcome. She helped me feel at home.
She would invite me to pretty much every game night, every event she had, even when I was out of town. Even if she didn’t remember that I was out of town it made me feel missed. I remember getting a phone call at 2am when I was in New York from Desiree asking why I wasn’t there (she knew), and to tell me how awesome the party was. If it weren’t for her my time in Seattle would have been very different, I’m better off for knowing her.
I can only imagine what this summer would have held. I wish I could have celebrated with her when she finally got her dream job. I wish I could have shown my little cousin the amazing things she does at Girl Scouts. I wish we could have gone hiking more, partied more, and played more games. I wish I could have gotten to know her even better. Desiree, I wish I had more time with you, you will be missed.
Desiree was one of those rare people that could energize a room with her presence. A force of nature who was tenacious, intelligent, kind and integral to the community as a whole. She poured herself into everything she did and I could count on her to always be there for me if I needed her. Words fail me with how much I am going to miss her.
UPDATE: And Eowyn:
I’ve struggled with what to say about Des, because her loss has come at such a shock and it is so immense and raw. We’re like any other group of young people living in Seattle — most of us moved here after college during the Great Recession, just looking for opportunity. We met over German beers at a bar in SLU where Des earned a plaque on the wall and a stein with her name on it. Her plaque says, “Queen of the motherfucking cosmos” which was pretty accurate. She had a tattoo on her wrist that said, “Be awesome instead” and that was her approach: That when life knocked you down, when you’re tempted to give up, you should be awesome instead. That was Desiree. She never gave up, she never said, “it’s someone else’s problem”, or “I can’t do that”, she bloody well figured out a way to do it. I admired that so much about her. We all did. That group of friends over time — countless nights together, book clubs where no one read anything, family members getting sick, Des’s efforts to found a Girl Scout troop, job losses, camping/hiking weekends, impromptu board games, weddings, Eurovision parties, concerts, comic cons, all the stuff of life — we became like family. So when she wound up in the hospital we already had a plan for visiting her twice a day just as soon as she woke up. We raised money to cover her deductible, and made plans to take care of her cats. We’d be there for her through every step of her recovery, just as she would have been there for us. We wouldn’t give up on her because she’d never have given up on is. We’d be awesome instead. Except she didn’t wake up, and she’s just gone. We lost one of the good ones. She will be so sorely missed.
UPDATE 5/27: Friends painted and installed a ghost bike memorial at the site of her fatal crash. But it’s not just any ghost bike. This bike is the one she was riding when she crashed. It’s a beautiful memorial: