Last month, 27-year-old Sabrina Tate died in Seattle. She was living in an RV in a city-sanctioned safe lot in the SODO neighborhood.
For years, Sabrina had been homeless and addicted to heroin. The cause of her death isn't fully known yet, but she had developed an infection in her legs from years of drug use.
Kim Malcolm talked with Sabrina's parents, Tommi Tate and Kellie Sevier, about Sabrina's life and death. Below are excerpts from that conversation.
Kellie Sevier on what Sabrina was like growing up:
"She was a happy little girl. The youngest of three sisters. She was always full of spunk. She loved animals, she loved music. She played the violin. She loved grunge rock as she got older. She was just really affectionate. She loved her family."
Tommi Tate on why Sabrina's 16th year was critical:
"We discovered she had been experimenting with meth at the time. We had a family intervention, just trying to talk to her — to try to understand why she was doing the things she was doing at the time. Was she hurting? Was there any pain we didn't know about? ... I can still see it looking back now — that moment I think, when she was 16, was probably our best chance as a family to change what her future would be. As it turned out, that wasn't to be."
Kellie on the last time she saw Sabrina in Spokane:
"She said she had a caseworker who was working with her to get her into a tiny house over in Seattle. She was very excited about that. And she told me she was going to talk to her caseworker about possibly coming over to Spokane and going through a treatment program here in Spokane. When I took her back to catch the bus, she told me when she hugged me, 'Mama, don't cry. Don't worry. I'll be back soon.' That's the last time I saw her."
Tommi on visiting the RV where Sabrina died:
"When we got in there, it had been trashed. Blankets everywhere. The roof was dripping water. There were flies buzzing around. There was rotting food. I remember a bunch of bananas on the counter across from where her bed was that were so rotted they were almost gone, but you could still tell that they were bananas. There was so much stuff in there.
If all of that stuff was in there when she died, and I'm sure it was, it was still no place for somebody to live — even if they were healthy. Whether somebody was with her around that time or if she died alone, you know, it was just heartbreaking. I've said this before, but it was no place for anyone to live."
Kellie on how Sabrina's death changed her perception of homelessness:
"This can happen to anyone, whether it be through addiction, whether it be through loss of employment. Homelessness can happen to anyone. A lot of people look down upon people that they see, whether they're standing on a corner holding a sign up or sleeping on a sidewalk, and treat people as less than they are. This world needs to really see, you know, we have people who are our brothers and our sisters who sometimes can't take care of themselves. And they need help."
Produced for the web by Amy Rolph.