Jordan Shelley killed in collision

A young man who led an inspiring life had his life cut short by a drunk driver in Seattle May 25.

A young man who grew up on Whidbey and already led an inspiring life at the age of 22 had his life cut short by a drunk driver on the Ship Canal Bridge in Seattle May 25.

Whidbey Island residents who knew him are mourning Jordan Shelley.

Greenbank residents Teresa and Lanny Shelley adopted Jordan and his younger siblings Simon and Banchegize from an orphanage in Ethiopia and brought them to their home on Whidbey Island in 2008. He was 8 years old and didn’t speak English, but he soon excelled beyond any expectations.

His mother said Jordan wasn’t just smart and driven, but had “an electric personality.” His six brothers and sisters would often be asked by people in the community if they were Jordan’s siblings.

“He was a tough act to follow,” she said.

Now, they are each struggling to come to terms with the sudden tragedy in their own way, she said.

In a 2018, the Whidbey News-Times ran a story about Jordan earning a Skagit Valley College two-year full scholarship to the University of Washington. Jordan described how he had wanted to be a doctor after his father died when he was 7 years old in Ethiopia. If he had been in a U.S. medical facility, he would have been healed, Jordan told the newspaper.

The young man also said at the time that his mother’s stories about working as a registered nurse in labor and delivery motivated him to pursue a career in medicine. He said her stories of women in pain during labor being helped by anesthesiologists peaked his interest.

He just wanted to help people, his mother said.

Jordan was in fifth grade in Coupeville, skipped a grade and then took classes through Oak Harbor Public School’s HomeConnections. He completed his last two years of high school while simultaneously completing his associate’s degree through Running Start at Skagit Valley College.

His mother said he was on his way to realize his dream of becoming a doctor. He was set to graduate on June 12 when the tragedy struck.

The State Patrol reported that Jordan’s car broke down on the Ship Canal Bridge early in the morning and he got out to try to get it started. His car was struck by a Toyota and Jordan was propelled off the bridge and into the water. His body was recovered later by divers. The driver of the other car was arrested on suspicion of DUI.