Victim in crash involving deputy identified as immigrant rights activist

VIDEO: Victim in deputy crash identified as immigrant rights activist

SEATTLE — The victim in a terrifying crash Saturday has been identified by family and friends as 42-year-old Sarah Leyrer.

Family and friends describe the victim as an advocate for immigrants’ rights.

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In fact, one of her law school classmates was Seattle City Council President Lorena Gonzalez. She shares the grief being felt across the city embodied in this memorial growing here outside where Leyrer died.

Sadness hung in the air as Leyrer’s cousin and a good friend added to the memorial already growing near where Leyrer’s life came to an untimely end.

“She did so much work for immigrants at detention centers on her weekends,” said Emily Reilly, a friend. “I just can’t say enough of how much she did. And she was just a delight.”

Leyrer and her beloved cat, Yeller, were in the car, when a King County sheriff’s deputy, in the midst of a medical emergency, plowed into hers and two other cars. Her husband was inside the nearby pet store.

“Their cat was very old, and they were getting her pet food,” said Reilly. “And she was in the car. They had just been to the vet. So she passed away with her cat. And her husband is quite sure that she didn’t suffer.”

Leyrer graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 2006 and was determined to work with Spanish-speaking immigrants, having learned the language as an exchange student in Uruguay in high school.

It was in law school that she met fellow student Gonzalez, who is now the president of the Seattle City Council.

“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. She was just a gifted lawyer. But most of all, a very gifted human.”

Leyrer was someone who left an indelible mark on those she knew and loved.

“She spent her life trying to make the world a better place,” said Reilly, her voice breaking. “And she’s dearly missed.”

Late Sunday afternoon, Leyrer’s husband posted on Facebook: “I feel confident that Sarah’s last conscious moments were filled with loving thoughts, stroking and talking to Yeller, who was most likely purring contently.”

When she died, Leyrer was working for the Seattle Office of Labor Standards, investigating issues of wage theft.