By KARL SCHWEIZER
In the months before he died, 12-year-old Thomas J. Washington went to Disneyland, flew in an airplane for the first time and began to notice girls.
He had played baseball since age 4 and had hopes of becoming the next Ken Griffey Jr.
He died at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle at 7:10 p.m. Monday, eight hours after he rode his bicycle through a stop sign and collided with a truck.
The accident, witnessed by classmates biking home with him from summer school, sent a shock wave through the close-knit community of Silver Firs, east of Mill Creek.
A memorial of flowers and cards grew by the hour Tuesday as friends, family and neighbors gathered at the accident site to pay tribute to a boy described as friendly, easygoing and athletic.
"He was one of those people who could talk to anyone. You could talk to him about anything," said Patrick Tymony, 12.
Patrick said he got to know Thomas – T.J. to his friends -after they got into a scuffle in the fifth grade.
"At the school dance he was one of the few boys with girls around him. ‘Where’s T.J.? Where’s T.J.?’ they were asking," remarked Patrick’s mother, Heather Tymony.
A few blocks from the collision scene, neighbors streamed into Thomas’ house to comfort his mother, Lisa Washington, and to fill her refrigerator with food. They’d been calling her at work and showed up at Harborview, too, Washington marveled.
"They all just came out and prayed with us and cried," she said. "I see these people at Little League and school and other functions and it’s like, ‘hi, how are you?’ I had no idea that I had this kind of support."
Thomas had an infectious sense of humor and was extremely loyal, frequently standing up for his 8-year-old sister, Imani, at school, Washington said. He loved sports, playing soccer and baseball. He planned to try out for football in the fall, she said.
He had started to notice girls – something his mother blamed for the sudden nose-dive in his grades that landed him in summer school this year.
He knew how to work. He bought his bike with money he earned delivering newspapers, she said.
In addition to his mother and younger sister, Thomas is survived by his father and another sister, Nikki, Washington said.
"It’s hard to believe," Washington said. "I keep expecting him to come to the door."
She added that she was not angry with the driver of the truck that collided with her son. It was an accident, she said.
"We’ll just pick up the pieces and go on, but we don’t forget him," she said. "I treasure the 12 years I had with him."
A memorial service is planned for Saturday at Gateway Middle School.
You can call Herald Writer Karl Schweizer at 425-339-3452or send e-mail to
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