4 killed, 51 injured as ‘Duck’ vehicle, bus collide on Aurora Bridge

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Duck vehicle crash survivor: I heard the driver say, ‘Oh, no’.

A fun day designed to introduce new international college students to Seattle turned into a nightmare when a “duck boat” tour vehicle collided into their charter bus on a busy bridge, killing four students and injuring dozens. Rujia Xie and other North Seattle College students were on their way to the city’s iconic Pike Place Market and Safeco Field for new student orientation events Thursday when she heard the crash from the back of the bus.

The vacation they had been looking forward to for two months finally arrived and it was set to be a full weekend celebrating the engagement of their son. Traveling in the opposite direction, two Philadelphia friends on a road trip across the country, Brad Volm and Bradley Sawhill, were cruising over picturesque Lake Union when they said they saw the duck boat’s left tire “lock up” as it swerved into the charter bus, t-boning it. The amphibious vehicle is operated by a tour company called Ride the Ducks, which offers tours known for exuberant drivers and guides who play loud music and quack through speakers as they lead tourists around the city. The collision on the Aurora Bridge, which carries one of the city’s main north-south highways over the lake, left a tangled mess of twisted metal, shattered glass and blood, witnesses said. Susan Gregg, a spokeswoman for Harborview and the University of Washington medical centers, released a statement Thursday night that gave the conditions of some of them.

As his wife laid on a stretcher she called her son who was working downtown Seattle. “I left work immediately and drove over there,” Cliff Steinhauer said. “There were probably a half-dozen firetrucks, a dozen ambulance, police. Three dozen people were on board the duck boat, as well as the driver, who is certified by the Coast Guard and a licensed commercial driver, company president Brian Tracy said.

Because an 8-mile stretch of Aurora was the third-worst accident corridor in the state, safety experts recommended widening lanes and adding a median barrier to the bridge to prevent head-on collisions. “Twelve years ago there was a formal recommendation to improve the safety of this bridge, and the fact that as a city and a state have not done that is just gut-wrenching for everyone,” Carlyle said. Attorneys for Elizabeth Karnicki’s family allege the May 8 accident, which occurred during rush hour, was due in part to “huge blind spots” on the duck boats.

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