The news of Jake Brewer’s death sent shockwaves through Washington over the weekend. Jake Brewer died during a tragic accident on Saturday afternoon. The White House staffer was participating in a charity bike ride for cancer when he lost control of his bicycle rounding a curve in the road.
According to the Washington Post, he “crossed the double yellow line and had a collision with an oncoming vehicle.” The person driving the car was not injured during the accident, but Brewer lost his life.
He is the husband of Mary Katharine Ham, a contributor to Fox News. The couple shares one daughter, and a second child is on the way. Ham shared a message about Brewer’s death on her Instagram on Sunday.
“We lost our Jake yesterday, and I lost part of my heart and the father of my sweet babies. I don’t have to tell most of you how wonderful he was. It was self-evident. His life was his testimony, and it was powerful and tender and fierce, with an ever-present twinkle in the eye. I will miss him forever, even more than I can know right now. No arms can be her father’s, but my daughter is surrounded by her very favorite people and all the hugs she could imagine. This will change us, but with prayer and love and the strength that is their companion, we can hope our heartache is not in vain– that it will change us and the world in beautiful ways, just as he did.”
Brewer was the senior policy advisor to Megan Smith, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer. She released her statement about Brewer’s death to the White House blog on Sunday. She spoke about the man, but she also shared about the things he had accomplished during his time at the White House.
“Throughout his career, Jake traveled across the country and around the world collaborating with teammates to help improve the lives of others. His story is filled with high impact adventures in service, inclusion and ‘doing.’ He was an awesome addition to the White House family. A small sample of Jake’s work in just the past two weeks included: leading our participation in an event in the Bronx to help underprivileged young people learn to code; working with our colleagues to accelerate the President’s TechHire Initiative; and bringing together leaders from industry and government to use data to connect those with key skills to job opportunities.”
Brewer’s death shocked many. According to Tech Crunch, many in the tech world went to their Twitter accounts to express their sadness over the news. Many others also shared their thoughts, as well.
We’re devastated to hear about the loss of @JakeBrewer, a true inspiration for opengov and a great friend. Our hearts go out to his family.
— Sunlight Foundation (@SunFoundation) September 20, 2015
From our first conversation years ago to our last a few days ago, every time I spoke to @jakebrewer, he focused on how to help people.
— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 20, 2015
— Tim O’Reilly (@timoreilly) September 20, 2015
— Niaz Souti (@niazzs) September 21, 2015
Such sad news about Jake Brewer’s death. http://t.co/oTSz3dyVnX
— Heidi N Moore (@moorehn) September 20, 2015
Extremely kind statement from @POTUS on tragic death of Jake Brewer — Mary Katharine & kids “always have a family here at the White House”
— Ed Henry (@edhenry) September 20, 2015
President Barack Obama also took a moment to release a statement about the death of Jake Brewer.
“I am heartbroken at the tragic loss of one of my advisors, Jake Brewer. We set out to recruit the best of the best to join their government and help us harness the power of technology and data to innovate new solutions for the 21st century. Simply put, Jake was one of the best. Armed with a brilliant mind, a big heart, and an insatiable desire to give back, Jake devoted his life to empowering people and making government work better for them.”
Following his death, friends set up a GoFundMe account to assist Mary Katharine Ham with the education of her two children. In the 14 hours since the account was established, more than $110,000 has been donated to help Ham during this tragic time. A goal of $200,000 was set. Many have left Ham and her family condolences in the comments section of the page.
One commenter said, “I am so sick to hear of this. My prayers for you, Mary Katharine, and your little Georgia and your other child on the way. I will be praying for you and yours for a long time. I am glad that I can make donations to this and to the Travis Manion Foundation in Jake’s honor.”
Before his time at the White House, he worked with Change.org. In 2014, Brewer spoke about technology with Tech President.
“I’ve spent the last several years (along with others) generally obsessing about what it will take to not only have the technical systems, but also the incentives, processes, and habits necessary to give citizens real impact in board rooms and the halls of government. If there’s been a shift, it’s in that I believe more than ever that we can make it work, and it doesn’t have to be so damned tragic. What is incredibly fun today is having the platform and team to build and implement ideas versus just write about them.”
At the age of 34, Brewer had so much more that he wanted to do. His life was still beginning. He was a husband and father, but he was also a man that worked towards helping others with technology.
Technology is growing and changing every single day. It is important to find ways to use tech in the world to help others. Brewer was a man working at the White House to do that.
What do you think about Jake Brewer’s death?
[Photo: Mary Katharine Ham/Instagram]