Friends and family gathered in Parkland on Wednesday, feet from where 13-year-old Michael Weilert was killed.
Weilert was on his bike at the crosswalk on State Route 7 at 133rd Street South in Parkland on Tuesday. Responding officers say a 27-year-old driver failed to stop, despite Michael having the right of way. Michael was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver is not currently facing any charges and was able to leave the scene. Trooper Robert Reyer with the Washington State Patrol, says troopers at the scene determined she was not impaired and was not driving recklessly. But Reyer tells KIRO 7 that an investigation is still underway, and the Pierce County prosecuting attorney could still bring charges in the future. Reyer says the driver is at fault for failing to yield. That traffic violation fine also could come later.
Michael’s mother, Amber Weilert, does believe the driver was reckless, because the driver was at a marked crosswalk. It is a crosswalk where other cars have stopped. “I can’t imagine knowing that someone is stopped — any car is stopped — at a crosswalk and you wouldn’t stop too. Just that behavior alone … is reckless,” said Weilert.
Parkland residents tell KIRO 7 that the crosswalk and area have always been dangerous. It’s a busy street, with a crosswalk instead of a stop light. Additionally, the middle light of the crosswalk was not working.
Cara Mitchell with the Washington Department of Transportation says someone had stolen parts of the middle crosswalk light last week. Those parts can take up to a month to replace.
“Around July 15, our crews actually noticed that this particular beacon was missing its solar panel, its battery controller and its cabinet,” said Mitchell. “Those pieces of equipment have been ordered. But we also know that there is a delivery time of four weeks.”
She says theft of WDOT signs and equipment is a dangerous and unfortunate trend.
“It’s frustrating. This is something that we do see,” said Mitchell. “We need drivers just to be vigilant, drive the speed, really pay attention to when you see those beacons or if you see the crosswalk signs. Please, please stop for those pedestrians because they do have the right away.”
Friends of Michael set up a tribute near the crash site with flowers, messages, and some of his favorite things — like cranberry juice and energy drinks.
“He touched so many people throughout his life and they know exactly how to honor him,” said Weilert.
A vigil is planned for Saturday in Parkland. The family has also put together a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral expenses.