A Ballard homicide lost in a pandemic
By Peggy Sturdivant
On Thursday, March 19, 2020, a 52 year-old Seattle woman was the victim of a hit-and-run in Ballard’s Fred Meyer parking lot around noon. Her injuries proved to be fatal and she died at Harborview Medical Center. The Seattle Police Department initially classified this as an accident investigation and asked for anyone with information to contact the Violent Crimes Tip Line at 206.233.5000.
Let me repeat, it was shortly before noon on a Thursday afternoon at the Fred Meyer parking lot, during the particularly frenzied days of shopping before Governor Inslee had officially called for a “state-at-home” order. Seattle was still considered the epicenter of COVID-19 cases. There is no doubt in my mind that the parking lot was crowded, and that there are witnesses who can help this case.
I follow the Seattle Police Department on Twitter so I happened to see the first Public Affairs announcement asking for the public’s help on March 21st at 6:09 p.m. I had been at Fred Meyer in the early afternoon on March 18 and I tried picture and fathom a driver hitting a person and then fleeing without being seen. When I heard a rumor online that the victim had died, I wanted to believe it wasn’t true. But it was true.
The woman who died was Lori Ann Tate. Her husband’s family has a highly respected 4th generation business. The Tates have a teenage son. Lori loved animals, and especially Goose, her Silver Lab. I know this because of the obituary that revealed the fact of her death on the morning on March 19, 2020. How her family managed to craft an obituary so filled with grace fills me with wonder and respect. Lori Ann Tate was an artist as well as mother, sister, aunt and friend to many. The obituary from The Seattle Times on March 25, 2020 concludes: “Words cannot do justice the light, generosity, humor, grace, happiness and endless creativity that poured out of her.”
Say her name. Lori Ann Tate.
I’m not a crime reporter so I’m not about to call the family. However I did contact the Seattle Police Department’s Media contact to ask, where’s the update on this? What can I do? How can I get out the word before the trail of the driver who fled gets colder, dimmer? Before being reassigned to special projects related to COVID-19, Sergeant Sean Whitcomb responded by forwarding my email to the Community Liaison Officer and the Public Affairs specialist. Ninety minutes later, and a week after her death the Public Affairs officer added an update to the original announcement: Ballard Hit-And-Run Now A Homicide Investigation. However I have not heard back from either of them as of press time.
This could have been any one of us in a grocery store parking lot, whether it’s related to these unprecedented times or not. However I think that if we weren’t all distracted by the fear or actuality of the coronavirus in our homes and community there would have been more media and subsequent community attention to this homicide. I reached out to Media Relations for Fred Meyer, based out of Oregon. I asked about potential counseling for Fred Meyer employees, also whether the company would be contributing to a reward for any tips. I got an automatic email response that he was out of the office. To be fair I couldn’t bring myself to call his cellphone.
Think back. The police hope to speak to anyone who was in the area and may have witnessed something. It was two days after St. Patrick’s Day. It was sunny and late morning in the Fred Meyer parking lot off of Leary Way. Not the middle of the rainy night on an otherwise dark deserted road. It’s not likely that the driver didn’t know, but they fled.
I don’t know if Lori Ann Tate had already shopped, or if she was going to. I don’t know if she was alone, but want to hope that her teenage son was not witness to one of the worst things that can ever happen, to be the victim of a violent crime. The family that cannot hold a funeral has responded with grace. So that leaves me to respond with rage. Find the driver.
The tip line is 206.233.5000.
Remembrances can be sent to Hope for Kids https://www.hope4kidsinternational.org/and Whidbey Animals' Improvement Foundation (WAIF) Whidbey Animals' Improvement Foundation (WAIF)
A reward for more information of $11,000 is being offered, and the family is providing that money. Anonymous tips can be made through Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or by clicking here.
I am one of Lori's closest friends, thanks for this coverage. She had just finished shopping & her son was with her, she was loading the back of her car when they came for her!! Her last words were Help me, please help me. It is devastating for us and no they have not found the couple who ran her over.
Camy and I, along with all our family and friends want to express our sincere gratitude to Peggy for her extremely kind and thoughtfully worded article about our Sweet Angel Lori. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts! 🙏♥️💔
The car came at her. Was there an altercation inside the store. Have the police looked at footage from the cameras. This all seems intentional. Very heartbreaking. I’ll keep her family and friends close in my prayers.
My heart breaks when I read this. I am hoping that Fred Meyer steps up and helps with the investigation and I implore anyone with information to come forward. This beautiful spirit deserves closure
Is the truck stolen bc if not, the registration has the name of potential driver or his female passenger. Can they release his name?
Thank you for this article and hugs to everyone who cares for Lori and her family. I hope this person is brought to justice so everyone can grieve this horrific loss.
I'd really like to know what are the investigators doing to look/search/find the driver? Have they processed the truck? Have they checked cameras in store, all the parking lots, streets or crosswalks in the area?
Why haven't we heard what they've done to help find the driver and passenger?
Thank you Peggy so much for the beautifully said article. I am the son of Lori and it made me so happy to see that people are doing there part. This article is so kind... thank you🙏🙏
I was looking up a different crime and found this news on the KOMO website: https://komonews.com/news/local/two-suspects-arrested-after-woman-was-r…
They've arrested a suspect!
Thank you for caring and writing this. I guess we have closure of some sort now. They found these horrible people who killed Lori and took her from us. I am heartbroken for her loss anyway, but at least it has come full circle. God bless you all.
Peggy, your telling of this story is at once professional and compassionate, brilliant writing you have a real gift for this craft. If something similar happened to me, I would want you to be the one telling my story. I still am holding back tears when I think of your line: "say her name, Lori Ann Tate". I shop there often. Gawd, her son was there. I feel it is small solace to us and her loved ones that they caught two likely suspects, this tragedy is of the worst kind.