Family seeks justice after woman killed in crash involving forklift driver suspected of DUI

SEATTLE — The 27-year-old woman who was killed Tuesday afternoon in a crash involving a forklift on Aurora Avenue North and North 96th Street in Seattle has been identified by her family as Jessica Valdez.

Valdez was in the passenger’s seat of a gray SUV when the crash happened.

Seattle police said that a man driving a forklift while intoxicated was trying to cross the intersection when he hit the gray SUV, which then hit a landscaping truck.

Valdez and two other male victims had to be cut out of their cars by firefighters.

All three were taken to Harborview Medical Center.

Valdez died of her injuries at the hospital.

The other two men are in satisfactory condition, according to HMC.

The driver of the forklift, 54-year-old Taunu Motu, was arrested for DUI. A judge set his bail at $300,000 on Thursday.

According to court documents, Motu failed multiple field sobriety tests on the night of the crash. Motu’s breath sample showed a blood alcohol content level of .203, more than two-and-a-half times the legal limit.

Valdez’s family is heartbroken. She leaves behind three young children.

“You don’t even know the pain that I have in my heart,” Jose Duran, her father, said.

“I’ve been crying all night,” said Denika Trujillo, Valdez’s sister.

She said they all knew something was wrong when her sister wouldn’t pick up her phone.

“After we had seen the first, like, Facebook post of the news of that accident, we started realizing that the car looked really familiar,” Trujillo said.

The family wants the man responsible to be held accountable.

“Just want justice for her because she didn’t deserve what happened to her, and her kids didn’t deserve to lose their mom,” Trujillo said. “It won’t bring her back, but maybe it will stop this from happening to somebody else.”

Friends and family held a vigil for Valdez on Friday night. “I really appreciate everybody that come here and support us, for my daughter and my grandkids,” said Duran. “She was happy all the time, and that’s how we remember her.”

“She was a great person, had a wonderful personality she had a lot going for herself,” said Ray, the father of Valdez’s children. “My kids are devastated right now.”

The family has a GoFundMe set up to help pay for funeral costs.