Tragic hit-and-run ends promising life of newlywed

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Wedding photo of Jerome Dumlao and his wife, Marie Linavat

By Jacklyn Tran
Northwest Asian Weekly

The early morning of Dec. 6 began as a celebratory outing that quickly took a tragic turn when an unimaginable event changed the lives of many, beyond the one that was lost. At approximately 2:20 a.m. at the intersection of Western Avenue and Bell Street in downtown Seattle, Jerome Dumlao was killed in a hit-and-run.

After leaving a Belltown establishment to head home, Dumlao, a Filipino American, was crossing the street along Western Avenue in a marked crosswalk. According to court documents, while his wife and friends were walking toward the mentioned intersection, a car driven by the accused suspect, Eric Murillo, was headed west on Bell Street toward Western Avenue.

According to documents, “The defendant stopped at the stop sign close enough to Mr. Dumlao, such that Mr. Dumlao’s reaction was to turn and put his hands on the hood of the car.”

An exchange of words ensued before the driver accelerated, knocking Dumlao to the ground. The suspect proceeded to move forward in his vehicle running over the pedestrian before turning left and going the wrong way down the one way street where he was blocked by a patrol car and apprehended. The victim was taken to Harborview Medical Center but suffered fatal head and chest injuries.

According to prosecutors, the driver had come from a different Belltown club where he had been working. A passenger in his vehicle admitted that they had been yelling at pedestrians prior to the incident. Lab tests for Murillo reported a .13 blood alcohol level.

Charging papers noted that during an interview with an officer, Murillo said he “got scared, and continued driving” in reference to why he fled the scene.

The following day, a hearing at a King County Jail courtroom erupted in emotional outbursts as the victim’s family members expressed their anger and pain.

A large showing of family and friends created a commotion in the court hallways.

“It was an accident. It was an accident, okay?” said one woman, of Murillo’s actions.

At one point, the victim’s brother, Jeff Dumlao, exclaimed, “He … stopped and ran my brother over! My brother had tire tracks on his chest. … How are you going to stop and look him in the face and then run him over right after? He does not deserve this.”

Murillo was charged with vehicular homicide and felony hit-and-run. The judge announced his bail at $500,000, which was met by applause from Dumlao’s family and friends. An arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 22.

Dumlao, 30, graduated from Renton High School in 1997. A longtime and committed FedEx employee, he led an active lifestyle and appreciated the outdoors. He was known for his loyalty, sense of humor, and kindness. Friends say Dumlao was a devoted and loving husband who hoped to start a family with his wife, Marie Linavat, of just over a year. He is survived by his wife, two siblings, his mother, and a large extended family.

Murillo, 24, was described by friends as a churchgoer and DJ who was attending the University of Washington for nursing.

Since the incident, blogs and forums have been a point of heated debate and discussion among concerned citizens along with friends and family of both sides.

Many have shared their condolences for the family that has lost their loved one, while others have used blogs and forums for other reasons. Attacks on and praises of the character of both men have been made, while many have speculated on the true details of the incident. Some have offered unofficial information and others have offered their thoughts on drinking and driving laws.

One thing many have agreed on is the fact that a man’s life has been cut short and another man’s life will forever be changed. Many hope that this incident will be a compelling force for the community in realizing the dangers of drinking and driving.

A donation fund has been set up in the name of Jerome Dumlao at Sterling Savings Bank. ♦

Read our follow-up to this story here.

Jacklyn Tran can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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