Jacob Brewer, a former policy leader at Change.org who was serving in the White House Office of Science and Technology, was struck and killed by a car Saturday afternoon in Maryland while he participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a charity bike race. The Washington Post reported that the accident occurred when he lost control of his bicycle on a sharp turn and crossed into oncoming traffic.
President Obama tweeted, “Jake devoted his life to empowering people and making government work better for them.” In addition to the tweet, he released a longer statement that began: “I am heartbroken at the tragic loss of one of my advisers, 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.”
Megan Smith, the CTO of the United States, added more in a statement. “Even his tragic passing, which occurred during a community event to raise money to fight a disease that had stricken a friend, says so much about his character and the daily example he set for all who knew him,” Smith said.
Brewer was known for his work in civic technology, and figures from the tech and politics community also came out in force online to mourn the loss. “From our first conversation years ago to our last a few days ago, every time I spoke to Jake Brewer, he focused on how to help people,” entrepreneur Anil Dash tweeted in a series of short snippets about Brewer.
Others offered condolences via Twitter and Facebook, including Adam Conner, an executive at Sean Parker’s political app Brigade, and Tim O’Reilly, founder of the O’Reilly tech media company and key figure in the open-source community.
“He had more empathy in him than the rest of D.C. combined,” Conner said on Facebook. “He saw service, in the public and the private sector, as a life-long calling and the noblest of pursuits.”
“How fragile life is, even for the best of us,” O’Reilly wrote.
Filmaker and activist Jose Antonio Vargas worked closely with Brewer on the immigration non-profit “Define American.” Re/code reached out to Vargas to learn more about Brewer’s life. He said, “I just flew from LA and landed in DC to be with the family. Not sure what to say. Please read this. That’s the kind of person, the kind of brother, he is.”
He linked to a Huffington Post article Brewer had written in 2011 about his friendship with Vargas. Brewer told readers that watching his “gay, Filipino brother [he] never had” suffer as a result of being an undocumented immigrant made Brewer question what it means to be an American.
The Ride to Conquer Cancer updated its homepage with a post about the news, reiterating its commitment to safety, saying Brewer’s family had requested privacy and listing the phone number for a counseling service. Brewer’s wife, Mary Katharine Ham, posted an Instagram family picture, saying, “I will miss him forever, even more than I can know right now.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.