‘Fun’ tour of Seattle turns into nightmare for students

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Fun’ tour of Seattle turns into nightmare for students.

SEATTLE (AP) — 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. An emergency official stands near a charter bus, left, and a “Ride the Ducks” amphibious tour bus that were involved in a fatal crash Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. 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. 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. WARNING: Contains graphic images. (Seattle Times Staff) Update at 8:40 p.m.: Crews began removing the wreckage from the Aurora Bridge Thursday evening.

Update at 7:30 p.m.: A 17-member, interdisciplinary team from the National Transportation Safety Board, along with an NTSB board member, are due to arrive in Seattle Friday to begin their inquiry into the crash. The company that owns the Seattle amphibious vehicle says its pilots are Coast Guard-certified captains and also have commercial driver’s licenses that allow them to drive on the road. “Don’t fret, before you even step on board your fun-filled tour of Seattle, your Captain has completed an intense and rigorous training program!” the company says on its website. Murray said he said he expects city officials, including himself, will make themselves available to meet with families of those who have been killed or injured.

He saw people who had been thrown from the bus lying in blood, and others “desperate to try to find their loved ones.” “It just really takes it out of you when you see a paramedic walk up to a lady and put his fingers on her neck and her wrist and she is not breathing,” he said. “When you’ve got people on the yellow tarp and people on the red tarp and the people on the red tarp are dying, it is pretty dramatic.” The Gesners were in town from Orlando visiting Susan’s son who moved here last year, and were excited to ride the duck. But it is too early at this point to draw any conclusions as to the cause of this accident.” After the police complete their investigation, Seattle Transportation crews will inspect the bridge surface and its underside to see if it can be safely reopened, said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. 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. The crash resulted in four fatalities and numerous injuries. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times) Update at 5:37 p.m.: Sixteen patients are currently being treated at Harborview Medical Center, according to spokeswoman Susan Gregg.

Two Hungarian tourists were killed in 2010 when a sightseeing duck boat was hit by a barge on the Delaware River near Philadelphia, sinking it in water about 55 feet deep. Dozens of people lined up outside a downtown Seattle donation site and a surge of users crashed the agency’s website after Bloodworks officials issued an urgent demand for blood earlier in the day. At the time, Porter’s lawyer turned up two other recent cases in which duck boats had rear-ended vehicles at stoplights — and in both cases, the drivers told police they couldn’t see the other vehicle because of the height of their own, collision reports said. The school confirmed in a statement Thursday evening that the four people killed were foreign students and government officials were trying to contact family members.

A witness described the amphibious Duck vehicle, which was headed north, swerving and hitting an SUV before colliding with and ripping out the side of the southbound bus. “We’ve had a terrible tragedy,” Mayor Ed Murray said during a news briefing about two hours after the crash. “The thoughts and prayers of this city go out to everyone — the families and those impacted.” Murray said the city will face significant transportation problems for the rest of the day, as Aurora Avenue will be closed between 39th and Denny into the evening. Ride the Ducks’ Seattle headquarters was closed after the accident, and president Brian Tracey said he is “trying to get more information, just like you.” The distinctive, six-wheeled amphibious vehicles are a common sight around Seattle, particularly in summer. They transport tourists on what’s described as a “party on wheels,” with singalongs and a route that includes Pioneer Square, the Seattle waterfront and a plunge into Lake Union. Bellair Charters, based in Ferndale, Whatcom County, was last inspected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2013 and received a satisfactory rating, according to the UTC.

Area hospitals generally have a sufficient supply to meet the demands of such emergencies, but with so many injuries in a concentrated time and location, donors are needed to build reserves back up quickly, Larsen said. Trinidad Alcaraz, security and EMT manager at the zoo, said the 25 people at the zoo were all young, and all were examined by the zoo’s security staff and emergency-medical technicians. He said it appeared there was something wrong with the Duck’s front left tire, which had red fluid leaking from it. “It all happened so fast,” said Volm, who was on a cross-country trip with his friend Bradley Sawhill. “I got out of my car and there were bodies just everywhere. People laying in the street.” He said the company has a good safety record. “We train and train and train and have ongoing continuing-education classes with our captains and our drivers to make sure they’re being safe all the time,” he said.

The other 30 patients are less seriously injured and were triaged to local hospitals, including UW Medical Center and Northwest Hospital & Medical Center. Sue Stangl, spokeswoman for the Seattle Fire Department, said Harborview would receive the “tragic, trauma-type injuries” because it is the region’s trauma center. The company was involved in two other collisions in recent years, in December 2010 and June 2011, when different Duck drivers rear-ended passenger vehicles at Third Avenue and Pike Street and at Aurora Avenue North and Denny Way.

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