A mother’s plea: Help prosecute the hit-run driver who nearly killed her son

(WSB photo, March: Sean Lowry’s motorcycle post-crash)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“This man left my son for dead, face down on the road.”

Merle Zahniser‘s son is 44-year-old Sean Lowry, who was riding his motorcycle on Admiral Way two months ago when “this man” hit him and drove away.

Sean wasn’t expected to survive. He did. Merle has more to say about that. But the main reason she contacted WSB is this plea:

“We really need the witnesses who saw the driver to step up and work with the detective.”

The driver, she says, is not a mystery; the vehicle was found. The witnesses are not a mystery – at least, some of them.

What is a mystery is why they are not fully cooperating with police.

As she talked with us by phone this morning, she was in Sean’s room at a nursing/rehab facility, where she and his girlfriend have been with him almost around the clock.

“Sean is doing amazingly well, considering what he has been through.” He was in a coma for six days; she says doctors at Harborview Medical Center thought he had only a “one percent chance” of emerging from it. “Fortunately he has a strong desire to come back … he is improving every day.”

He cannot – yet – walk, but he just achieved a milestone, Merle says – he was able to transfer himself from bed to wheelchair. Also, “his cognition is better” – he is writing in a journal, including simple things to help that cognition – as simple as what happened, why he is in a rehab facility. They are hoping and praying that improvement continues, both mental and physical; next milestone would be the ability to bear weight on his left side, which in a few weeks would allow him to go back to Harborview for an intensive rehab program. “He’s had to relearn everything.”

And yet, that’s a miracle, his mom says. “His neurosurgeon is so happy his assessment was wrong” – that Sean survived.

But while his will can help him accomplish a lot, and while his loved ones can offer seemingly boundless support, there’s one thing they can’t do.

The witnesses need to work with police. Merle points to WSB commenters following our coverage of the crash, which included at least one person who said they had seen the hit-run driver.

“(People) were talking about the driver not doing the right thing. They’re doing the same by not stepping up.”

If witness(es) see this and want to talk to Merle, we can connect you. Or maybe you lost the detective’s contact information? (Det. Feuerstein, 206-684-8934; case #19-098823)

Meanwhile, Merle and Sean’s girlfriend Mel remain at Sean’s bedside. “I hope that he will come back,” fully, Merle says. And don’t even ask about the bills – since he is still in care, there’s no final tally yet; the GoFundMe remains open.

One more time, Merle repeats her plea, through tears: Witnesses, please “step up” and help police so the driver who left Sean for dead can be fully prosecuted.

26 Replies to "A mother's plea: Help prosecute the hit-run driver who nearly killed her son"

  • Nab May 16, 2019 (1:57 pm)

    I agree with Merle.  Whoever you are who witnessed this tragedy, please come forward.  This was a crime.

  • Loufa May 16, 2019 (2:18 pm)

    Get well Sean, Praying for you! if you know who did this do the right thing and come forward.

  • WSB May 16, 2019 (2:29 pm)

    Just to be clear – at least one witness did initially talk to police. But in criminal prosecution, that is not enough – investigators may have more questions, and if the case goes to trial, witness(es) could be needed to testify. So her plea is primarily for the known witness(es) to please work with police. And if there is anyone else out there who saw this happen – them coming forward would be a bonus. – TR

  • rambeux May 16, 2019 (3:20 pm)

    What kind of person would shield the POS who did something like this by not coming forward with eyewitness testimony?

  • buttercup May 16, 2019 (3:38 pm)

    I pray that all those who have any knowledge about this step up and speak up. Seattle is known for compassion and good nature. 

  • Thoughtful May 16, 2019 (3:52 pm)

    I spoke with the police that evening after witnessing your son get hit but a car. I saw some replies thanking me but your name is not on one of them……And yet you have the nerve to compare me to the man who hit your son at this point in time. Your quote, “(People) were talking about the driver not doing the right thing. They’re doing the same by not stepping up.” is painful to read. I’ve spoken with the police since the accident and emailed them a response to their line up. I can forward you the emails. This was a while ago.  Cheers. 

    • Merle Lowry Zahniser May 16, 2019 (5:32 pm)

      Hi, Thoughtful, I am Sean’s mom. If you look further down the thread of responses you will see that I did respond, just not to one person in particular. I spoke with the detective a few days ago and he said that no one was willing to follow through. Would you please forward your emails to me so I can once again contact the detective. I apologize for not specifically thanking you and just giving a general thanks, but please try to understand just how overwhelming all of this is. As Sean’s mom, my focus has been helping him work on healing and relearning everything. Traci from the WSB can give you my email address to forward your responses to the detective to me.If there are any other witnesses, please contact the detective, WSB, or me. Thanks for any help anyone can give.Sean Lowry’s Mom,Merle Lowry Zahniser 

    • Randy Stratton May 16, 2019 (5:48 pm)

      Maybe she’s not talking about you. Maybe she has a lot of other things to do than pour over blog posts to thank everyone individually. Maybe you could try to be a little more empathetic, and not be so hard on someone who is going through such a tragic thing.

      • newnative May 16, 2019 (6:01 pm)

        You’re missing Thoughtful’s point completely. They were identified as the person on the blog who wasn’t cooperating with cops. Then they were compared to the hit and run driver. 

        • WSB May 16, 2019 (7:00 pm)

          Actually, as the person who interviewed Sean’s mom for the story, I am noting that she was not identifying any one person in particular and that’s why I wrote witness(es). Though (IIRC without re-reading the original thread) “Thoughtful” is the only commenter on the original story who mentioned having spoken with police, it seemed that on a busy street there were almost certainly other witnesses and this goes for them as well. – TR

    • WTF May 16, 2019 (6:56 pm)

      Doing the right thing should come with zero (0) expectation of accolades.Your post to a grieving mother tells us A LOT about you.

    • Diane May 16, 2019 (7:39 pm)

      Thoughtful – thank you for doing the right thing. Keep doing it.  The high road isn’t easy.  I’m sorry you have experienced pain along the way.  I don’t know anyone involved here but it seems like a very painful and emotional experience and perhaps people picked the wrong words… forgive them.  I’m grateful to you whoever you are for doing the right thing to keep a dangerous driver off the road. This person will hurt someone else again.  Please continue to help keep us all safe.  I appreciate you. 

    • Miller May 17, 2019 (11:15 pm)

      Thoughtful. Thank you again I think that I remember you said it was a Black chevy , Any idea what year ? I can show you how to tell.

  • Mj May 16, 2019 (3:57 pm)

    They found the vehicle, no word if was stolen.  If not, a clue is presented.  I really hope they catch the perpetrator and make him or her pay for what I suspect are incredibly high medical costs, lost wages and unimaginable life altering changes they caused.

  • flimflam May 16, 2019 (4:02 pm)

    what reason(s) would a witness have to not cooperate? weird.

    • ACG May 16, 2019 (5:19 pm)

      Seems silly, but perhaps someone thinks their eyewitness experience doesn’t matter “I’m sure someone else already gave the police info”- or something similar to that. If that is the case, maybe hearing this heartfelt plea will encourage them to offer any further info. I can’t believe someone is purposely shielding the driver, I think it might be more along the line they don’t realize how critical and useful their eyewitness information might be. I hope this motivates people. And best wishes to the victim. I hope he continues to recover and defy the odds. 

  • Mj May 16, 2019 (4:25 pm)

    flimflam hopefully none. I have a question – Is a witness compensated for lost wages if they are not working?  I am not a witness, but am curious.

    • Swede. May 17, 2019 (12:17 am)

      How long do you think a testimony would take? Would you care about not being paid for an hour or two vs. letting someone die from an accident you witnessed? 

  • Vanessa May 16, 2019 (5:35 pm)

    Shared. Donated. Real prayers and good thoughts for your recovery and your family and friends. 

  • Yma May 16, 2019 (8:43 pm)

    Sigh – please, if you witnessed just work with the investigation. Its about fact gathering. 

  • Mj May 17, 2019 (8:55 am)

    Swede in you time estimate did you factor in travel time, time sitting waiting to testify et al.  Trials can sometimes last for days!I would certainly hope witnesses step forward, this is a horrific situation and deserves justice.  flimflam inquired why someone might not be cooperative.

  • Alex S. May 17, 2019 (1:22 pm)

    Driver of black Chevy Impala not cooperating.  Shocking. 

  • Ws prayers May 17, 2019 (5:00 pm)

    It’s not just witnesses it’s people who know the driver of the car there has to be someone who knows who hit this guy too-whether the person stole the car or was the owner I’m sure someone heard this person’s story I can’t see how anyone could keep a story about almost killing someone a complete secret someone knows something ans justice needs to be served 

  • Huck May 18, 2019 (8:00 am)

    Things like this are why I don’t oppose CCTV cameras installed everywhere. In the UK they would have caught this POS already.

  • Ophelia de Serres May 18, 2019 (6:34 pm)

    Sean is my friend. He is a kind, funny and truly wonderful person. I hope that all those who have information that could help in this case, will come forward. Honestly, all of us who know and love Sean and his loved ones simply want the person who did this to be held accountable. What happened to Sean is unbelievably distressing. He is a good man, friend and father. He’s the guy who shows up, who cares. Please – anyone who knows anything at all, make that information known to detectives. You never know what piece of information may be useful.  Come forward. Thank you. 

  • Sadtaco May 29, 2019 (11:13 pm)

    In Seattle, in order to do the right thing you must expect and receive gratitude and recognition in order to feel fulfilled. Some of you people are truly arrogant.

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