Cyclist, 18, in Capitol Hill collision with van dies in hospital
Nap Cantwell, 18, died Wednesday, eight days after he collided with a van while riding his bike on Capitol Hill.
Nap Cantwell was running late for work May 29, when he took off down Capitol Hill on his dad's bike.
At 6:20 a.m., he collided with a van at Pike Street and Boren Avenue and was taken by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center.
He died there Wednesday, his parents and sister, Lucy, at his bedside.
Cantwell was 18, on the cusp of an adulthood that was just starting to come together, his parents said.
Over the years, he had given them some headaches — there were calls from the principal's office in middle school, when he was the class clown, and meetings with school counselors last year, when he basically stopped going to Garfield High just as he was about to finish.
But this year, Cantwell started working at Elysian Brewing Co., where his dad, Dick Cantwell, was co-founder. He flourished, and was just finalizing plans to get his own place to live in Georgetown.
"I had always said, 'Nap is going to be a great adult. It's just going to take him a while to get there,' " said his mother, Chiyo Ishikawa. "We really felt that we were seeing glimmers of that more complete person on the horizon."
As they sat for eight days in their son's hospital room, his parents said they were amazed by all the lives their son had touched. At one point, more than 30 teenagers packed his room in the intensive-care unit.
"He was just a really good guy, like one of the best guys," said Andrew Imanaka, a friend from middle school and high school. "I'm not really sure how to explain him. ... Having a good time was just a big thing for him."
Growing up, Cantwell spent hours alternately at Elysian and the Seattle Art Museum, where his mother is deputy director for art.
He played shortstop in Little League and took up the drums. He was, his dad said, quietly popular in an unconventional way, "the kind of person people really seemed to like to be around from a very young age."
When walking with a group of friends, Cantwell would run ahead, hide behind something, and then jump out and scare everyone, said Emmett Akely, a close friend. "He was just a hilarious guy. He had a great sense of humor."
Cantwell started working at his dad's brewery in January. He considered it, his mother said, something of a legacy to get into the beer business. He often rode his bike to work or to the bus stop, from his mom's or dad's house.
As heartbreaking as it was to lose him, Ishikawa said, it would have been even sadder a year ago, before he'd had a chance to come into his own, before his identity began to blossom.
Police are investigating the collision. Cantwell never regained consciousness after the accident, and as days passed, results of medical tests grew increasingly grim.
Said his father: "We really didn't hold out much hope for — I mean we did. 'Til the very end, you hope he's going to open his eyes and be himself, but that just wasn't in the cards."
Thursday would have been his 19th birthday.
A memorial gathering is planned that day for 3 p.m. at the Olympic Sculpture Park, followed by a reception at the Elysian's Capitol Hill Brewpub at 1221 E. Pike St.
For anyone wanting to make a donation in Nap Cantwell's name, the family is suggesting a program called BikeWorks, 3709 S. Ferdinand St., Seattle, 98118.
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or email@example.com. On Twitter @EmilyHeffter.
Information in this article, originally published June 9, 2012, was corrected June 14, 2012. A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled the last name of Nap Cantwell's mother. The correct spelling is Ishikawa.