Though she loved running and mountain climbing, Susanne Neil Scaringi didn't do much cycling before participating in the Cascade Bicycle Club's bike to work challenge in May.
Since then, she biked almost daily to her job in downtown Seattle, first from Mercer Island and then from the West Seattle house she and her husband bought this summer.
Early Wednesday, Scaringi, 27, suffered a critical head injury when a driver heading toward her made a left-hand turn in front of her, causing her to slam broadside into the man's van, according to Seattle police. Though she was wearing a helmet, the impact of the crash proved fatal. Scaringi died Wednesday evening at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson said.
The collision occurred during Scaringi's morning commute to her job at Outdoor Research, an outdoor-clothing and -gear store on First Avenue, said Matt McClung, a close friend and fellow cycling enthusiast. She was about a mile from her home when she crashed into the van at 35th Avenue Southwest and Southwest Graham Street, he said.
Her reasons for commuting by bicycle were partially environmental, partially economic, said her husband, Tony Scaringi.
"She was cycling off and on, but not like she was after May," he said. "It was something we were doing together, and she was getting me into it."
Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said the accident is under investigation. He could not say whether the driver, a man in his 50s, is likely to face charges.
McClung, a sometime participant in Critical Mass, a monthly bicycling event aimed at raising awareness of cyclists' rights, is planning a candlelight vigil at the crash site tonight to honor Scaringi. The vigil will take place after the Critical Mass ride through downtown Seattle, which occurs the last Friday of every month.
"She was such a cool woman. She definitely had a lot of spunk," said McClung, noting that Scaringi competed in this summer's Danskin women's triathlon and this month completed the annual Trek Tri-Island, a three-day, 135-mile cycling tour of the Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands.
Scaringi's Christian faith was important to her, but it wasn't something she often talked about, Tony Scaringi said. "But she lived it, which is why she gave and gave [to friends and family]. It was her action of living out her faith," he said.
That generosity of spirit prompted Scaringi to become an organ donor — and doctors determined she is a good candidate for donation, her husband said.
"We hope and pray [her death] is going to save other lives," he said.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or email@example.com
A candlelight vigil will be held tonight at the intersection of 35th Avenue Southwest and Southwest Graham Street and is scheduled to begin about 7:30 p.m. Cyclists will meet at 5 p.m. at Westlake Center for the monthly Critical Mass ride before heading to West Seattle.
A memorial service to honor Susanne Scaringi is planned for Saturday; details are being finalized.