Derek Blaylock drove his son to school the morning of September 21, 2016, then grabbed his bike and rode to Northgate Transit Center to catch a bus to work. On the way home, he was biking from the transit center along 1st Ave NE next to a construction barrier set up for work on the Northgate Station when Kevin Brewer struck and killed him. Brewer was sentenced to more than six years in prison for vehicular homicide.
I had the chance to sit down with Jane Blaylock a year after her husband’s death to learn more about him. She described a loving father of two who was quick with witty one-liners, was a master at cooking meat and usually preferred to avoid the spotlight. I encourage readers to read that profile if you haven’t already.
Blaylock’s death was devastating to his friends and family, of course. But making matters worse, the person who killed him should not have been on the road at all after a long history of dangerous driving that included killing one person.
Brewer had previously killed Nicole Cheek, a grandmother walking along the side of a road in Marysville, in 2008. He left Cheek on the side of the road, where she was not discovered for another hour. He later turned himself in a pleaded guilty, saying he fell asleep. He served three and a half years for Cheek’s death, but investigators found that “[b]etween 2007 and 2016, Brewer was responsible for at least 10 collisions in which the driving behavior was consistent with that of a driver impaired by alcohol or drugs, or by a fatigued/drowsy driver” according to court charging documents.
On that terrible day in 2016, Brewer was driving southbound on 1st Ave NE behind Blaylock when he veered off the road around NE 95th Street and up the side of the construction Jersey barrier. This is when he struck and killed Blaylock, who was trapped between the truck and the barrier.
Brewer is named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed recently by Blaylock’s estate, of course, but so are Sound Transit, the City of Seattle and a list of contractors working on the Northgate Station project (JCM Northlink, Jay Dee Contractors, Frank Coluccio Construction Company, Michels Corporation and North Star Seattle Runnel and Rail).
The lawsuit alleges that removal of the shoulder and placement of a concrete barrier and raised asphalt berm “degraded the safety of 1st Ave NE for southbound bicyclists in particular.” The suit also alleges that degrading an established bike route in this way “created a need for properly placed signs and reasonably safe detour routes for bicyclists.” The suit also alleges that a 2013 traffic control plan required bike detour signs away from southbound 1st Ave NE, but that those signs were not in place when the collision occurred.
The suit seeks unspecified “economic and non-economic damages.”