Sher Kung, a lawyer who worked on a key case challenging the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, was killed Friday in a traffic accident in downtown Seattle.
Kung, riding her bicycle in a bike lane, was struck by a truck making a left turn, The Seattle Times reports. She died at the scene. She was 31 years old.
An attorney with the firm of Perkins Cole, Kung assisted the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington affiliate in representing Maj. Margaret Witt, an Air Force flight nurse, in a successful challenge to her discharge under DADT. A U.S. district court in 2010 ordered the Air Force to reinstate Witt, finding that the fact of her being gay did not harm troop morale or cohesion. The federal government initially appealed the ruling, but in 2011 reached a settlement with Witt under which she retired with full benefits and the discharge was removed from her record. President Obama signed legislation repealing DADT in December 2010, and the repeal took effect the following September.
At Perkins Cole, Kung worked primarily on intellectual property issues for the firm’s litigation group, but she also handled many pro bono cases, the Times reports. Perkins Cole released a statement calling Kung “an exceptional lawyer and a wonderful comrade, with boundless energy, legal brilliance and relentless optimism.” She is survived by her partner, Christine Sanders, and their infant daughter.
The city plans major changes at the intersection where she was killed to make it safer for cyclists, including adding a protected lane and separate signal, Seattle TV station KING reports. The improvements were already in the works at the time of Kung’s death and will be made within the next two weeks. Her friends and fellow cyclists have left flowers and bikes at the intersection as a memorial, along with a pair of running shoes, as Kung was also an avid runner.
The truck driver who struck Kung is cooperating with police and apparently was not impaired in any way at the time of the accident, the Times notes.