Red Hat Developer Vidal Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver While Bicycling

The open-source community mourns the death of Seth Vidal, who led the development of the yum project and was a longtime member of Red Hat's Fedora team.

Red Hat Fedora developer Seth Vidal died July 8 from injuries caused by a hit-and-run driver whose vehicle struck Vidal on a Durham, N.C., road while he was riding his bicycle.

Vidal, 36, an avid cyclist and open-source developer, was killed by a motorist who later turned himself in to police on July 9, according to a report from in Raleigh. Vidal was biking north in the 1700 block of Hillandale Road around 9 p.m. when he was hit from behind, according to the news report. He was pronounced dead at Duke University Hospital.

The driver of the car that struck him, Maceo Christopher Kemp Jr., 27, of Manson, was charged with felony hit-and-run and driving while his license was revoked, WRAL reported. Kemp's bail was set at $50,000, the station reported.

News of Vidal's death circulated quickly in the open-source community, with Red Hat posting a moving tribute, titled "Thank you, Seth Vidal," on the company's Website on July 10:

"Collaboration and community are truly at the heart of everything Red Hat does. Seth Vidal, a longtime member of the Fedora Project and Red Hat's Fedora team, espoused these values and represented the best of open source. He was a lead developer of the yum project, the software package manager used by Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and other RPM-based distributions. He played a significant role in the Fedora infrastructure team, working tirelessly to keep the lights on and leading the efforts to make building and managing third-party package repositories easy for Fedora developers.
"With permission from Seth's loved ones, it is with great sadness that we share that Seth died tragically on July 8. The entire Red Hat family extends our sympathies to Seth's family and friends during this difficult time.

"In the last 24 hours, Red Hatters from around the world have expressed their condolences and remembered Seth on memo-list, Red Hat's infamous internal mailing list where Seth himself was a regular and passionate contributor. We've seen Seth described as funny, smart, charming, sometimes opinionated, and always a fervent supporter of open source.

"Seth's contributions span far and wide in the open source community, and his impact will live on through the millions of people around the world who touch open source each day.
"Thank you, Seth, for everything you contributed to open source, to Fedora, and to Red Hat. We will miss you, and you will never be forgotten."

Two of Vidal's friends and colleagues at Red Hat told eWEEK that Vidal was a special person and a friend to many.

At Fedora user and developer conferences in the past, said Kevin Fenzi, a senior software engineer with Red Hat, large groups of people would often gather after the presentations were finished and the groups would be filled with laughter and conversations. "Right in the middle of the crowds, you'd find Seth," said Fenzi, who knew Vidal since 2005. "He'd give you his honest opinion about anything you wanted to run by him."

Over the last few years, since Fenzi was hired to lead the Fedora infrastructure team, he would talk with Vidal "pretty much every day," he said. "He was just an amazing person. It's really hard to encapsulate someone's life. There's so much stuff to talk about and so many people he touched."