Bergen Fuglestad, a 20-year-old University of Washington student, is an avid runner and hiker. Over the summer, she climbed 14,500-foot Mount Whitney in California and bought a 2000 Dodge camper van to better access Washington’s trailheads.
On Monday evening, she was running on the upper trail around Green Lake near Aurora Avenue North when a driver hopped the curb. The vehicle struck her from behind on the path, sending her 40 feet through the air and leaving her immobile when she landed, her father, Jim Fuglestad, told The Seattle Times.
A statement from the Seattle Police Department said the collision occurred about 5 p.m. on the 6700 block of Aurora Avenue North — close to the path.
Bergen Fuglestad was taken to Harborview Medical Center in serious condition, said Seattle Fire Department spokesman David Cuerpo. According to her father, she had several broken bones and serious injuries to her neck.
When she fell from the crash, her vertebrae detached from the base of her skull and broke. Surgeons planned to put a plate in her neck and screws will be implanted to fuse it, her father said. The crash also broke her shoulder blade, clavicle and humerus.
After surgery, she won’t be able to nod her head up and down but should be able to walk following physical therapy, Jim Fuglestad said. He anticipated she will miss the university’s next quarter and start again in January.
“We’re all distressed, and it’s very tragic. My biggest worry is that she would never be able to run or hike again because that is such a big part of her life,” Jim Fuglestad said. “Under the circumstances, we are fortunate and thankful that she is alive.”
Officers evaluated the driver for signs of impairment, according to police, who did not provide further details on the investigation Tuesday afternoon.
Jim Fuglestad said detectives said the driver was cooperative and was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and was not distracted, but how the crash happened remains unclear.
Northbound lanes of Aurora Avenue North were blocked for more than an hour as police responded.
Data from the Seattle Department of Transportation shows that 39 crashes involving pedestrians and drivers resulted in serious injuries or deaths during the first half of 2019 — the highest number of crashes in the first half of a year since 2010. Seven crashes that severely injured or killed people occurred on Aurora Avenue North.
In August, a 56-year-old woman died on Aurora Avenue North after being struck and trapped under a van. Two days later, a 71-year-old man was seriously injured on Aurora Avenue North in Greenwood.
While his daughter was running along a trail, Jim Fuglestad said, he had concerns about street safety in Seattle.
Drivers “need to be more alert and attentive when there are areas where people walking and biking are,” he said.
Editor’s Note: Bergen Fuglestad’s family has started a GoFundMe page to assist with medical expenses.