4 international students killed, dozens of people injured in Seattle bus wreck – Los Angeles Times
The four people killed in Seattle on Thursday in a wreck that involved a Ride the Ducks amphibious tour vehicle and a charter bus were international students, officials said. The crash also injured dozens of people, several of them critically.
The deceased were students with North Seattle College’s international program, according to the college. They had been aboard the charter bus, traveling to Safeco Field as part of a new-student orientation program.
“We’ve had a terrible tragedy,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray told reporters. “There’s been a terrible loss of life.”
About 11:15 a.m., the amphibious vehicle, known as a duck, was carrying tourists north on the Aurora Bridge when it collided with the charter bus, which was going south, according to the Seattle Police Department. Two passenger vehicles were also involved in the crash.
Witnesses told investigators that the duck vehicle may have been dealing with a mechanical issue shortly before the crash, according to a Seattle Police Department news release. But it is too early to draw any conclusions about what caused the wreck, Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said Thursday evening.
It remains unclear which vehicle was at fault in the crash, but police said there was no evidence that drivers were intoxicated or otherwise impaired.
Scenes broadcast by local media showed the crumpled front end of the white duck vehicle against the side of the charter bus. Shattered glass, metal siding and a tire littered the roadway, and the side of the bus appeared to have been sheared off in the collision.
Officials did not immediately identify the dead, saying Thursday evening that they were still reaching out to families.
Murray said he expected people from multiple countries to head to Seattle to see relatives who were affected by the wreck. “We are not clear on all the countries involved,” he said.
More than 50 people were taken to local hospitals in the aftermath of the crash, and 15 remained in critical condition as of 6 p.m., officials said.
Harborview Medical Center, which received 18 of the patients, said about 5:30 p.m. that 11 were in intensive care, five were in satisfactory condition, and two had been discharged.
Some of the injured suffered face and head injuries, according to the hospital. It said the youngest of its patients was a 17-year-old girl, and the oldest a 61-year-old man.
About 45 students and staff members from North Seattle College’s international program were aboard the charter bus, according to the college. Brian Tracey, president of Ride the Ducks, told the Associated Press that the duck vehicle had 36 people aboard.
Murray said Ride the Ducks voluntarily removed its duck vehicles from Seattle’s streets after the crash.
The company has a fleet of 28 vehicles and 35 drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Its website says all of its drivers are required to hold both a U.S. Coast Guard master’s license and a commercial driver’s license.
The Aurora Bridge, which spans Lake Union and connects the city’s Queen Anne and Fremont neighborhoods, might not reopen before Friday, the mayor said.
Treating injuries from the crash severely taxed the local blood supply, according to Bloodworks Northwest, which put out an emergency call for donors after receiving numerous requests for blood components from local hospitals.
According to Ride the Ducks’ website, the company has been operating its DUKW vehicles, nicknamed ducks, since 1997. The vehicles can traverse both land and water, and they came to prominence during World War II, when they were used to move items from offshore supply ships to military units on land.
The company has not been the subject of any unsafe driving or vehicle maintenance violations in the last two years, according to data made public by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
However, it has been involved in several accidents in the city, according to the Seattle Times. A pedestrian was struck by a Ride the Ducks vehicle in July, and the company was also involved in crashes in 2010 and 2011, the newspaper reported.
One of the company’s vehicles was also involved in a crash last February, according to the safety administration database. Two people were injured, and police issued a citation to the bus driver. Additional information was not available.
A National Transportation Safety Board team is scheduled to arrive Friday to investigate the fatal wreck. Witnesses of the crash are asked to call (206) 233-5000 to share information with officials.
Times staff writer Lauren Raab contributed to this report.
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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
7:15 p.m.: This story was updated with information from North Seattle College, Mayor Ed Murray, Harborview Medical Center, Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Ride the Ducks President Brian Tracey.
4:54 p.m.: This story was updated throughout.
3:20 p.m.: This story was updated with additional information from Harborview Medical Center.
2:15 p.m.: This story was updated with additional information from North Seattle College, the fire department and Harborview Medical Center.
1:30 p.m.: This story was updated with additional information from Mayor Ed Murray and the FMCSA and a comment from a Ride the Ducks spokeswoman.
This story was originally published at 1:12 p.m.