Robert Townsend

Seattle, d. 10.September.2011, hit by car while working.


'He was so happy to be on his bike, doing what he loved'

KOMO News, September 12, 2011

In a business where time is money, Robert Townsend was at the top of his game.

"He was fast - very fast - and happy," said Sarah Staples, Townsend's coworker at the Jimmy Johns sandwich shop in the University District. "He was having the best time on his bike, so at least he was having fun in the end."

Police say Townsend was just a few blocks from work Saturday night delivering sandwiches near the University of Washington when he was hit and killed by a car. Investigators believe Townsend was heading south on University Way Northeast, when a driver turned into him. The impact threw the 23-year old Arlington native from his bicycle.

"He was doing what he loved. There's no denying that," said Kaleo Rendoni, Townsend's friend and coworker. "Robert loved his bike, and he loved Jimmy Johns. He loved everyone that worked there and we all loved him back."

At the crash site Sunday, friends left a white bicycle wheel and attached a large cross. A father mourned the son he taught to ride a bike.

"He had the heart and soul to do it," said Robert Townsend, Sr., holding back tears.

Friends said they often called Townsend by his middle name, Storm, and that he lived up to it, tearing up the road like a tornado and delivering sandwiches twice as fast as the next guy.

"It's just so hard to believe," said coworker Steven Cole. "He was like the anchor for the store."

"I lost my best guy yesterday," Rendoni added.

Investigators say Townsend was heading downhill at the time of the crash and might not have been able to stop his bike in time. The driver of the car was not impaired at the time of the accident, police added. As of Sunday night, no charges had been filed in the case.

"It'd make me smile every time I'd see him on a bike," said coworker Nick Haggard. "He'd have the biggest most childish grin on his face because he was so happy to be on his bike and doing what he loved."

Bicycle fatality raises safety issues

By Mike Lindblom and Susan Gilmore

Seattle Times, September 12, 2011

As friends of sandwich-delivery man Robert Townsend mourn his death in a weekend bike crash, Seattle-area cycling advocates are wondering how to encourage safety on the streets.

At least 12 bicyclists have died so far this year across the state — nine in crashes with motor vehicles, one who accidentally fell into a stairwell, one who was struck by a train, and one who was tripped up on a trail. On average, there are 10 in an entire year.

Townsend, who worked for Jimmy John's sandwich shop Saturday night, was going downhill on University Way Northeast when his bicycle and a car turning left onto Campus Parkway Northeast collided. Police are still investigating and have not determined fault.

Flowers and sandwiches had been left at a memorial there, where Bill Anderson, a bike commuter from Bothell, stopped by Monday.

"Drivers look for vehicles; they don't look for bikes," he said, adding that he's had close calls on his bicycle. "You have to be a vigilant rider and more aware of your surroundings."

Townsend, the deliveryman, loved skateboarding and snowboarding as well as cycling. He had just received a bike-shop sponsorship and was starting to race. His nickname was Storm, which was his middle name.

"He was an amazing guy," said Townsend's mother, Brigitte Schaefer. "He overcame obstacles and mountains in his life."

Townsend, 23, moved from his home in Arlington to Seattle last year after being laid off from a welding shop. His younger sister, Alexandria, committed suicide in 2005, Schaefer said. "Now I know they're together."