• February 08, 2023

Jessica Valdez Killed, Two Injured in Accident with Forklift on Aurora Avenue North in Seattle, WA

UPDATE (Feburary 9, 2023): The victim killed in this accident has been identified as 25-year-old Jessica Valdez.

Seattle, WA — February 7, 2023, a woman died and two men were injured in a three-vehicle crash caused by a forklift on Aurora Avenue North in Seattle.

Authorities say the incident happened around 3:25 p.m. on the 9600 block of Aurora Avenue North (SH 99) near North 96th Street. Preliminary investigation suggests a forklift operator entered the roadway from the west side of the street and traveled eastward through the lanes until he crashed with a southbound SUV. The impact sent the SUV into the northbound lanes where it collided with a landscaping truck.

The SUV's two occupants were rushed to an area hospital, where the 25-year-old passenger died a short time later. The 27-year-old driver was last reported in serious condition. The landscaping truck's driver was injured but stable and was taken to the same hospital.

Police arrested the forklift operator at the scene and alleged he may have been intoxicated. Photos of the scene show officers retrieving alcohol bottles from the forklift.

The investigation continues. No further information is currently available.

If preliminary reports have their facts straight, this situation is obviously troubling. Who drives a forklift into traffic, and drunkenly at that? At least one person, apparently, and given the terrible and fatal damage that followed I hope he gets everything he has coming to him. However, as I read about what happened and see photos of the wreckage I can't help but wonder who even let that man get behind the forklift's controls in the first place.

I've seen many company employees recklessly cause crashes while texting or drunk. The injuries they drivers cause often means serious consequences will follow for them personally, but under the law they may not be the only ones responsible for the damage done. In many cases their employer knowingly and willfully ignored red flags to put them at the wheel, whether by hiring them without careful background checks or not paying attention to dangerous habits on the job.

Jessica Valdez Killed, Two Injured in Seattle, WA Accident with Forklift on Aurora Avenue

I saw the scene photos; police didn't just find a hip flask or a beer, but two large vodka bottles and a carafe of juice. The idea that this man could have snuck those onto industrial equipment, mixed them together, and drank them all without someone noticing is mind-boggling. Did no one see that happen, try to stop him, or at least report it? In short: What the hell?

None of that is meant to take attention away from the person who made those bad choices. As I said, if evidence confirms what reports say then prosecutors should throw the book at him. I just mean there could be more to the story, and everyone who played a role in ending a young woman's life should be held accountable. For the sake of the people hurt in and by the Aurora Avenue crash, I hope that happens.

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