Seth Vidal, a long time Durham resident most well known for creating the “yum” software used by several Linux distributions, was killed in a hit and run accident last night near Hillandale golf course. He was 36 years old.
The accident apparently occurred after dark, when a driver swerved off the road to avoid traffic and ran into Seth’s bike from behind. Seth was pronounced dead after being transported to Duke University Hospital. The driver sped away, and police are requesting that people call in if they have any information on the suspect’s identity.
I had the privilege of meeting Seth a few times, and although I did not know him well I have been a long time user of his software and have always held him in the utmost regard. He developed yum initially at Duke University, and the software evolved to become an integral component of various Linux distributions, including Red Hat’s Fedora and RHEL. After leaving Duke, Seth went on to work at Red Hat, where he continued to develop yum and various other projects.
Editorializing even more than usual: as a fellow bike commuter, this story has impacted me more than I would have anticipated. I commute by bike, I get around a lot by bike, and learning that somebody I admired was killed in this way so close to my home has really struck a nerve.
I didn’t know Seth well, but I know he will be missed.
EDIT: new developments will be added to the list below as I learn of them.
- The Herald Sun is now reporting that the driver has turned himself in. He is being charged with felony hit-and-run and driving while his license was revoked.
- WRAL now reports that the suspect’s license had previously been revoked for a DWI.
- Red Hat has posted some words.
- The Herald-Sun has posted an editorial on the state of cycling in Durham.
- Seven Stars Cycles has dedicated its group ride this weekend to the memory of Seth.
- Details on the service, this Saturday.
- The Herald-Sun has an article on the service. Watts-Hillandale will hold a vigil tonight at the site of the incident.
- Indy Week has a brief article on the incident.
- A “ghost bike” memorial has been placed at the site of the incident.
EDIT: Maceo Christopher Kemp Jr. has been found guilty of felony hit-and-run and driving with a revoked license. He will serve 12-24 months minus time served (6 months).