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Kent man killed by train identified as longtime resident, attorney Pete Curran | Update
As Pete Curran mentored many young lawyers over the years in Kent he always made sure to emphasize a certain point.
"The message he would instill in us as the most important was giving back to your community," said Mark Davis, an attorney with Kent's Curran Law Firm who first met Curran in 1979.
Curran, 81, died after being struck by an Amtrak train as he bypassed the lowering traffic gates as he walked east on East Titus Street at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The King County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the cause of death as an accident.
Curran and his wife Pat Curran were the 2009 Kent Cornucopia Days Old Timers King and Queen. Pat Curran died of cancer in 2011. She was 77.
The Kent Historical Society selected the couple as Cornucopia king and queen for the popular annual festival because of their long history and involvement in the community.
They helped sponsor the city of Kent annual Spotlight Series of concerts. Curran volunteered at the Kent Senior Activity Center to help people with legal questions.
The couple moved to Kent in 1963.
Both were originally from Spokane, but met at the University of Washington during a Halloween dance in 1953, according to a story in the Kent Reporter about their selection as king and queen.
“She was sitting on the radiator, sitting like she ought to have a friend,” Pete said, breaking into a grin and glancing over at his wife. “I ended up with the nicest lady those other guys couldn’t seem to land.”
The pair married in August 1955. They raised eight children. Curran went to law school at the UW. After graduation in 1960, he took a job at the Curran Law Firm (started in 1948 by his brother, James Curran, and James Kelleher) in downtown Kent. The firm still operates in Kent and has 11 attorneys.
Curran retired in the late 1990s. He spent the early part of his career as a litigation attorney and later worked as a real estate and land use lawyer.
"Pete was well known and liked by everybody here and by his clients," said Davis, who joined the firm in 1980. "That's why we still go by that name. He was the warmest, most engaging person you'd ever want to meet."
Curran created a family atmosphere at the office.
"He had an Irish sense of humor and could make everyone in the office feel like a member of his family," Davis said.
Davis talked to Curran just last week at the office.
"He stopped by for a brief chat," Davis said. "He would brighten up the office whenever he stopped by."
The engaging personality made the news about his death even tougher.
The train, with 220 passengers on board, was southbound from Seattle to Eugene, Ore. The crossing at East Titus Street in the downtown area has gates, flashing signals and audible bells, Kent Police said.
Curran is the first person killed by a train in Kent since three people were killed in separate accidents in 2011. Eleven people have been killed by trains in Kent over the last 17 years, according to the state Utilities and Transportation Commission website.
"Shock and profound sadness," Davis said about the reaction around his office. "He was one of my best friends."
Services are pending.