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On August 15, 2023, Bellevue Police motorcycle officer Kevin Bereta was part of a team of officers charged with escorting Vice President Kamala Harris during her public duties around the Seattle area. 

The motorcycle officers, including Officer Bereta, would ride ahead of the group of vehicles surrounding and including the Vice President’s vehicle. Their job was to clear the roadway in advance of other vehicles, pedestrians, or any other impediments or situations. One such advance clearing had been performed by Officer Bereta in advance of the Michigan Street onramp. Per protocol, upon completion of the clearing, the motorcycle officers were to quickly operate their vehicles to position them well in front of the Vice President’s entourage so that they could continue to clear in advance.

Officer Bereta caught back up to the procession and was adjacent to several vehicles as they traveled over the Michigan Street onramp. Per protocol, he was not traveling the posted speed limit but was exceeding it. As he began traveling across the ramp, his motorcycle struck the side of the ramp, and he was ejected.    His arms moved along the top of the old 27” tall railing, and he tried to grab onto it without success. Current code for railings is 42” tall.

Because the railing was too short, he slid over the top and plunged 60 feet onto the highway below. 

Officer Bereta landed on the cement and survived – a miracle. An approaching driver was able to stop – a second miracle. Aid arrived quickly since an ambulance was in the motorcade, and he was taken to Harborview with massive polytrauma.

Officer Bereta is married to Jenny – an ICU nurse at Evergreen Hospital. They have three sons under the age of 5. Jenny is Officer Bereta’s caregiver and now can only work part-time at the hospital with limited benefits.                          

Due to a glitch in the Bellevue Police Department Guild’s contract with the City of Bellevue, Officer Bereta had only six months to heal and return to work before his benefits would be retracted. 

But as of February 2024, Officer Bereta remains fully disabled. In an attempt to retain his benefits in particular health insurance, the Guild attempted to ask the City to make an exception. They ran into a brick wall. In desperation, Officer Bereta asked physicians to clear him for light duty. But they refused. Explaining that he would be seriously jeopardizing his health and recovery prospects if he tried. 

A patchwork quilt of nonprofits has promised to help Officer Bereta make insurance payments for the next several months. But every day, he remains in constant stress and worry.

Karen Koehler, his attorney, says:

“Officer Bereta served his city, state, and country.  He did so faithfully and bravely.  But where are the authorities now that he has been hurt in the line of the duty.  The City of Bellevue’s decision not to extend his disability leave supplement is callous, inhuman and frankly pathetic.”