Here are the top 10 online stories of 2019 for the Redmond Reporter.
When Bjorn Sarmiento arrived at the Redmond Transit Center from north Seattle on Jan. 16, friends say he was excited to spend another day of skateboarding at the Edge Skate Park. In his typical routine, Sarmiento would venture the hour-long bus trip to meet with friends to grind away and attempt tricks. This time, things were different. When Sarmiento stepped from the bus platform and his board hit the pavement, police reports state he took a diagonal path across the street, forgoing the use of any marked pedestrian crossing. A Redmond bike officer witnessing the action told Sarmiento to stop. What transpired next has some questioning the behavior of the Redmond Police Department (RPD). A video posted by the Instagram user @bigbluecarl, whose real name is Alex Harr, shows Sarmiento being arrested by two Redmond police officers. Sarmiento glides onto the screen and is soon encountered by two officers on bikes. He skates into one of the officers. The other approaches him from behind. “Stop,” one officer says, as she holds her hand out in front of her. The other officer chimes in, “Step away from the board.” Sarmiento’s dark backpack is removed and flung to the ground. His arms placed behind his back and handcuffs latched on. The video of the incident was posted Jan. 17. In a statement from the city of Redmond released Jan. 23, officials wrote that complaints against officers are taken seriously and after reviewing the video posted online and investigating the arrest, they “found no wrongdoing by the arresting officers.”
Grace Mitchell was a second grader at Rosa Parks Elementary School on Redmond Ridge last year. Her family had recently moved from Texas since her mother got a new job in the area. The school year started well, but it didn’t last long. Laurena Mitchell, Grace’s mother, noticed her daughter coming home with bruises on her legs and a less-than-cheerful disposition. Mitchell said the way the teachers and administrators addressed Grace’s bullying was “unacceptable.” She said she wants other parents to learn the signs of bullying and to know the best course of action to get their child help.
No one really knows how many horses Sharon Hunter has. Hunter, who owns and operates the Hunters Wind Wild Horse Rescue, had as many as 120 horses in two separate herds at one time. She stowed them on properties in Puget Sound counties. Hunter’s Redmond-based nonprofit was founded in 2015, with just more than a dozen rescued horses from the Yakama Nation reservation in Eastern Washington. Since then, several of her horses have been seized by authorities alleging neglect in three counties, and in two counties horses have been euthanized. Horse advocates believe she may have more.
The annual Festival of Color, organized by Sammamish-based Vedic Cultural Center, was held March 23 at Marymoor Park in Redmond. The festival, with grant support from the Redmond Arts and Culture Commission, brings the traditional Holi festival of India to the Northwest. To accommodate growth, the festival moved from Redmond City Hall to Marymoor Park in 2018. The highlight of the festival is the periodic play of colors, with countdowns announced by dignitaries and officials in attendance. The play of colors involves attendees throwing vegetable-based, non-allergic colored powder at one another.
What still stands out to Redmond police Lt. Brian Coats, years after the body of Arpana Jinaga was discovered in her apartment in 2008, is the smell of bleach and how her bedroom was saturated with an oily substance — later determined to be motor oil. It’s the burn marks on her bedroom carpet and on the satin sheets pulled from the garbage dumpster. But the most memorable thing throughout the investigation, first trial and subsequent retrial, was getting to know the “brilliant person” who was sure to go far in the world, Coats said. He heard about her accolades from family and friends. A recent immigrant from India and a graduate of Rutgers University, Jinaga had worked at EMC in Bellevue. She practiced martial arts and participated in a motorcycle club. She volunteered at the Redmond Fire Department and an organization that cares for unwanted pets. A second trial for Emanuel Fair, a suspect in the homicide case of 24-year-old Jinaga, ended with a not-guilty verdict on June 11. He was acquitted of a first-degree murder with sexual motivation charge. The first trial happened in 2017, and the jury was unable to come to a consensus.
A 19-year-old Seattle woman died as a result of a two-car crash near Redmond on SR-202. Her two children suffered serious injuries as a result of the crash and were transported to Haborview Medical Center in Seattle, according to Washington State Patrol. The accident happened at 4:29 a.m. June 25. The woman, driving a black Ford Mustang, was exiting from a private circular driveway when a white Toyota Tundra struck the driver-side door of the car. As a result, the Mustang left the roadway into a westbound ditch and the Toyota struck a tree. The driver of the Toyota, a 24-year-old male, was injured and transported for medical care. The woman was deceased at the scene. State trooper Rick Johnson said the 2-year-old was unrestrained and the infant, 4 months old, was in a carseat that wasn’t properly restrained. The 2-year-old was ejected from the car. An unsafe turn is listed as the cause of the accident.
The Redmond Fire Department (RFD) is investigating an apartment complex fire that left 10 residents displaced. At 9:48 p.m. May 23, RFD responded to a heavy fire at an apartment complex at 8222 169th Ave. NE. Residents had evacuated the building as multiple units had been damaged by the flames. Multiple departments from other cities responded to the call as well, including Bellevue, Kirkland, Woodinville, Bothell fire departments and Eastside Fire and Rescue. By 10 p.m. the fire was under control. Five apartment units sustained heavy damage and are not able to be reoccupied. Lisa Maher, communications and marketing manager RFD, said 10 residents have been displaced but have been provided housing by the Red Cross. Three people sustained minor injuries and were treated and released at the scene. Maher said because the building was relatively old it did not have an automatic sprinkler system or remote system installed.
At Norman Rockwell Elementary School, Siddhant Singh received a class project from his teacher in February. As part of a lesson on civic engagement, the 8-year-old chose to write a letter to Mayor John Marchione about an idea he wanted to see implemented in Redmond. Siddhant chose to write about his favorite interactive game Beyblade. “I really enjoy playing Beyblade at my friend’s house but it would be better if we could have a tournament at Redmond Town Center once every year,” Siddhant wrote in his letter to the mayor. “One reason is because we can face people around the world. Another reason is we can make new friends. My last reason is we can be entertained. So please, let us have a Beyblade tournament.” A few months later, Siddhant received a response from the mayor. Marchione responded with enthusiasm and invited Siddhant to connect with the producers of Derby Days to bring the first-ever Beyblade tournament to Redmond. Beyblade is a two-player or more game that has a line of spinning toys with the goal of knocking out the opponent’s beyblade. Each player receives three beyblades to use for battle in a match. The player with three points or the last player with their beyblade spinning wins.
The Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC), the multi-purpose corridor connecting Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland, Woodinville and Redmond, is getting a new name and brand in 2019. Currently, the ERC includes trail segments such as the Cross Kirkland Corridor and the Redmond Central Connector, along with part of Sound Transit’s light rail line in Bellevue. In the future, the ERC will include a continuous trail, more high-capacity transit and expanded use for utilities serving the Eastside. King County and local partner cities and agencies will select one of several options for the corridor’s new identity. The four candidate names being considered by the ERC Regional Advisory Council are: The Eastway, The 425, The Eastrail and The E. The four names resulted from a variety of outreach efforts, including a survey of more than 2,000 community members, stakeholder interviews and input sessions, discussions with people on the street and trail users and an analysis of other trail brands from around the country.
The Redmond Saturday Market opened for its 44th season on May 4. Opening ceremonies featured the Redmond High School pep band and Redmond opera singer Stacy Porter, who sang the national anthem. This year, the market took in 12 new vendors including a pottery vendor, soap vendor, furniture maker, collage artist, painter, wine barrel furniture vendor, a garden artist and more. The Redmond Saturday Market is the third-oldest farmers market in the state of Washington and the customers are Redmond’s prized possession. The market runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, with the season running from May 4 to Oct. 26. The market is located at 7730 Leary Way NE.