EVERETT — Michael Seavy knew the value of good decisions.
At Cascade High School in Everett, he was diligent about hitting the books, graduating in 2001 with a 3.43 grade point average. He went on to become a teller at an area bank, earning praise for his ability to make customers smile.
Seavy didn’t fall into the trap of picking his companions from any particular clique. He made friends easily and accepted them for who they were. He’d spent nearly four years cultivating a relationship with his girlfriend, Michele Jodock, a willowy blond who shared his joy for life, and dreams that included marriage and a family.
When Seavy’s 20th birthday arrived on Feb. 23, those around him expected to celebrate a young man who had spent a lifetime making the right choices.
Instead, Seavy was one of three people killed in Everett when a Ford Mustang driven by a friend slammed into a Chevy Astro van along Wetmore Avenue.
The car’s driver, Grant Fosheim, 19, of Everett is under investigation for vehicular homicide. He allegedly had been drinking and was driving between 50 mph and 70 mph when he blasted through a flashing red light, colliding with the van.
For those who loved Seavy, some of the sharpest pain comes from his decision to climb into a car driven by someone who apparently had been drinking.
"He wasn’t careless," his mother, Kathy Weber of Mount Vernon, said during a recent interview. "He knew better. He told me."
Police continue to investigate, and have yet to submit their findings for a decision on charges. Even so, Weber already has met with prosecuting attorney Janice Ellis.
"I really wanted to just tell them who Michael was," Weber said.
Seavy was riding in the front passenger seat of Fosheim’s car. Another passenger, Cory Baudry, 18, also was killed.
The van’s driver, Everett antiques dealer Jenny McCollum, 52, died at the scene. A new grandmother, she had been on her way home from work at the time of the crash.
"If Mike would have made it, he would have felt so bad for Jenny," said Jodock, Seavy’s girlfriend.
Fosheim had a troubled legal history, and at the time of the crash was in a court-supervised drug treatment program. He was terminated from the program on Wednesday and found guilty of a felony marijuana possession charge.
Fosheim’s legal troubles have led some in the community to assume that others in the car that night shared similar problems. But Seavy had never been in trouble with the law. His record shows just a single speeding ticket.
In the living room of her home on the shores of Big Lake in Skagit County, Weber keeps snapshots and memorabilia of her son’s life under the glass top of a coffee table.
There is a photograph of him on the swing set as a young child and a snapshot from a family road trip where he fell asleep snuggling in the back of the car with his older sister. The images trace Seavy’s transformation from a schoolboy in shorts with a summer vacation tan to a lanky young man visiting Mexico with his girlfriend and best buddies.
In nearly every snapshot, Seavy is smiling, a broad grin that leaves no doubt about the sincerity of his joy. Under the coffee-table glass are also stark reminders of a life cut short: the watch Seavy was wearing the night he died and the program from his funeral.
By wonderful coincidence, Weber gave birth to Seavy on her 23rd birthday. The family always celebrated their shared birthday, and there are many photographs of the pair blowing out the candles of a birthday cake together.
"I adored him from the moment I set eyes on him," she said. "He absolutely had me wrapped around his little finger."
Weber and her son didn’t get together on his birthday this year because she was moving and he had plans with his girlfriend. She spoke with him on the telephone that morning. They made arrangements to celebrate in the days that followed.
But before dawn the next day, there was a knock on Weber’s door. Her daughter broke the news: Seavy’s life had ended a few hours before in a car crash.
"It is just like a tornado has ripped through your insides and taken everything out," she said of the grief.
There has been some comfort in learning how many lives Seavy touched. His funeral drew 500 people.
There were stories from classmates about how Seavy would get up early and drive to the Department of Motor Vehicles so he could roll down his car window and tell a buddy, "You can do it!" as his friend headed to take his first driver’s license test.
Weber said one young woman rose from the crowd, recalling her first day of middle school. Everybody was standing around, feeling awkward. Suddenly, a long-legged teen rushed up and said, "Give me a hug!" That’s how she met first Seavy.
People from the bank told Weber that Seavy knew how to keep customers happy and his co-workers smiling. He was a master prankster who wasn’t above sneaking margarine onto a co-worker’s telephone headset and then giving him a ring.
"They told us the day Michael started there the place just lit up," Weber said.
Seavy wasn’t completely certain what career path he would take, but believed it would involve finance and a lot of time spent with people.
He was earning enough money to rent an apartment with his girlfriend, while still having enough left over to dabble in stocks and purchase savings bonds.
Jodock said she and Seavy had talked about marriage and a family, but they weren’t in any rush. They’d discussed trying to build a life together in California or some other warm place. Whatever the future brought, Jodock said, she knew Seavy would make it enjoyable.
"He could take the most rainy, boring day and just make it fun," she said. "He had a great attitude about life."
Most of Seavy’s final day was spent with Jodock and her family. Late in the morning, he got a phone call from Fosheim, who invited Seavy to a barbecue in Everett.
Fosheim wasn’t one of Seavy’s close friends, but they had known each other for years. Seavy knew of Fosheim’s struggles with drugs, alcohol and the law, but he had faith that Fosheim could change, Jodock said.
"He found the goodness in everybody," Jodock said.
Seavy didn’t drink and drive. Jodock said he was willing to wait hours to get a cab instead of climbing behind the wheel if he had been drinking. On Feb. 23, he made arrangements for Jodock to be available to pick him up if he decided to drink, she said.
His mother and girlfriend say they can’t understand why he decided to get into Fosheim’s car that evening.
Weber said her faith tells her that Seavy is in a better place.
"But I can’t help every day wanting to see him, and every day wanting to talk to him," she said. "I just want him to come home."
Reporter Scott North: 425-339-3431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.