SEATTLE — The pain is still raw for the parents of 19-year old Caleb Shoop, who lost his life in a Kenmore crosswalk. They continue to see new flowers and cards at the memorial next to the crosswalk for the young man who dreamed of being a fireman and helping others.
“We’re honored that it’s never finished and people haven’t forgotten him,” said Tammy Shoop. “There’s always something left here for us.”
Back in March, Caleb was on his bike getting ready to cross a busy 61st Ave NE. Two cars stopped for him to cross, but a third truck didn’t. The impact killed him.
Now his family is finding out that the truck driver won’t face charges, but rather a ticket for $175 dollars.
“It’s an insult to us that a $175 dollar ticket is what the city and state feels is the penalty for killing a child in the crosswalk,” said Shoop
When we asked the King County Prosecutor’s office about the case, they told us, “A charge of vehicular homicide could not be filed because there was no evidence that the truck driver was speeding and there was no evidence of alcohol or drugs.”
“I expect a $175 dollar ticket if I run a stop sign or fail to feed the meter, but if I kill somebody I’m surprised that’s all there is,” said Ben Shoop, Caleb’s father.
There is something called the “Vulnerable User Law,” passed recently in the legislature that can make punishments more severe for drivers who hit pedestrians or bicyclists.
Attorney John Duggan, who specializes in cyclists cases, said the law could have been used in the Caleb Shoop case
“My experience tells me that most police officers and prosecutors are unaware of the law and therefore don’t use it,” Duggan said.
The loss of Caleb and the deaths of 2 other pedestrians in Kenmore over the last year has sparked change. The busy 4 lane road where Caleb was killed was dropped to two lanes, and there are more warning signs around crosswalks. Many around the area still feel they are not safe.
Tammy and Ben Shoop still stop at the memorial next to where Caleb was killed about 3 times a week. They go for comfort, but also with hope that drivers see a message.
“I know that people look at the cross,” said Tammy. “Hopefully, it makes them think twice about crosswalks and reminds them that deaths do occur.”