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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 5 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 36
ACLU attorney, Sher Kung, who worked to overturn Major Margaret Witt's DADT case, killed in bike accident
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ACLU attorney, Sher Kung, who worked to overturn Major Margaret Witt's DADT case, killed in bike accident

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Sher Kung and I got along the minute we met two years ago at a restaurant in the Southcenter Mall. We met quite by accident really. My husband and I had arranged to meet two friends of ours, a straight couple visiting from San Francisco, California, for drinks. It was a short visit and, in the interest of time, Kung was invited as well. When small-talk began ('What do you do for a living' and 'How long have you two been together?') we quickly realized that our paths had crossed before - in the pages of the Seattle Gay News.

As it turned out, Sher Kung had been featured by me for the work she had done as a lawyer with the ACLU to overturn Margaret Witt's DADT case. Major Witt had been dismissed by the U.S. Air Force because of her sexual orientation and Kung provided excellent work on the case which is credited for helping to pave the way for the overall removal of DADT from the U.S. Military. I explained to her that I was the one at SGN to write the bulk of the DADT copy because I am a 10-year Navy veteran. From that moment on I don't think anybody got much of a word in otherwise. The two of us chatted about everything LGBT equality movement and beyond.

As the evening came to a close I remember thinking, and later exclaiming to my husband, how much I was impressed by her drive and determination to bring equality to our community. I felt like I had met a kindred soul.

Life happens and for whatever reason, the two of us never again met in person. I didn't think much about having let two years pass without at least meeting for drinks until August 29, when tragedy struck. Sher Kung was riding her bike at Second Avenue and University Street when she was struck by a large box truck. She died at the scene.

By that evening, friends, colleagues and strangers had set up a memorial near the crash site to pay tribute to Kung. I wasn't surprised - she was and still very much is - loved.

In a statement, the Washington ACLU said, 'The staff of the ACLU is deeply saddened by the news of her death. She was very committed to civil rights and social justice, and was a lively person and was fun to work with.'

The tragic accident calls for changes to the bike lanes in the area.

'This has been a bad corner for bicyclists for a long time. Probably like once a month we've seen someone get hit and knocked off their bikes, injured. This is the first time I've seen someone fatally hurt,' said one man who works across the street from where the accident happened.

About 60 bicycle-involved collisions have occurred on Second Avenue in the past four years, according to SDOT. Half of those included vehicles turning left at the crosswalk, the agency says.

Consequently, SDOT will add designated left turn signals for vehicles and restrict right turns on red to reduce turning collisions.

At the time of the accident, the city was a few weeks away from implementing the much-demanded safety changes for bicyclists on Second Avenue, which will include the new signaling.

'It's really distressing that in two weeks this bike lane is supposed to be installed, and I think if it had been in place it could've prevented this from happening,' a local cyclist said the morning that Kung was killed.

Construction will begin Friday on the protected bike lane and according to SDOT, the work will be finished by the end of the weekend.

After this weekend, the protected throughway will include two lanes on the east side of the street set apart from traffic by a designated stretch for vehicle parking or reflective posts.

The new protected lanes on Second Avenue will stretch from Pike Street to Yesler Way. Crews will install the lanes between 7:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They will be open for use on Monday.

Parking and loading will be prohibited on the east side of the street during those work hours.

Before work begins Friday night, a memorial ride and service will occur honoring Sher Kung, according to the Seattle Bike Blog. More information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/592724947503527/

Sher Kung is survived by her fiancé Christine Sanders and a baby boy, Bryn.

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