Deputy who caused fatal crash fighting for his life

VIDEO: Deputy who caused fatal crash fighting for his life

SEATTLE — A tragic crash has a deputy fighting for his life, as friends remember a Seattle woman who devoted her career to providing legal aid to immigrants.

She was killed when a deputy lost control behind the wheel, creating a double tragedy.

A growing memorial in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood is a testament to the impact of the life and death of Sarah Leyrer.

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But the King County Sheriff’s deputy who plowed into her car is fighting his own battle to survive.

They keep coming, those who knew and cared for 42-year-old Leyrer, now trying to cope with her sudden death.

Elizabeth Graham read from a message left by Leyrer’s aunt and uncle.

“It says ‘we love you, Sarah, you will be in our hearts forever,’ " she read.

Leyrer, she says, was part of a gaggle of kids who grew up on Queen Anne Hill, including Graham’s children.

“For me, Sarah will always be my shining star because, from a very young age, she was rooted in activism, in social activism,” said Graham.

That root apparently blossomed into a life of service.

After spending a year of high school in Uruguay, Leyrer enrolled at Seattle University Law school and was , determined to work for immigrant rights.

That’s where she met and bonded with now Seattle City Council President Lorena Gonzalez.

“We shared a desk in a small office at Casa Latina when it was first a little baby organization,” said Gonzalez. “And she was always just completely devoted to immigrants and their rights in the workplace.”

Leyrer’s life came to a tragic end Saturday afternoon.

She was waiting in the car for her husband, who was shopping in a nearby pet store.

King County Sheriff’s deputy Reggie Thomas was barreling down Airport Way South in the midst, says his family, of a massive stroke.  He plowed into three parked vehicles, killing Leyrer and her beloved cat, Yeller, instantly.

“The sound of the impact and the force of the impact shook the building,” said Joel Benjamin.

It left Benjamin and others who witnessed the aftermath shaken, too.

“Moment by moment, you know every moment is precious because you never know,” said Benjamin. “You literally never know.”

Deputy Thomas’s family released a statement saying that their deepest condolences go out to Leyrer’s family.

But they also say Deputy Thomas remains in ICU in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center, so they are in the throes of their own grief.