Sat, Sep 26, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Students Seattle tour ends in bus crash, killing four

AP, SEATTLE

Police officers photograph the front tire and wheel of a Ride the Ducks tourist vehicle before the bus was loaded onto a flatbed tow truck in Seattle yesterday.

Photo: AP

A fun day designed to introduce 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 student orientation events on Thursday when she heard the crash from the back of the bus.

She smelled gas and felt glass falling on her face. She and others jumped from the bus.

Witnessess Brad Volm and Bradley Sawhill said they saw the duck boat’s left tire “lock up” as it swerved into the charter bus, T-boning it.

“It all happened so fast. I got out of my car, and there were just bodies, just everywhere. People lying in the street,” Volm said.

The amphibious vehicle is operated by a tour company called Ride the Ducks, which offers tours around the city.

The collision on the Aurora Bridge left at least 2 people in critical condition, authorities say 51 people were taken to hospitals.

A stretch of highway was closed for hours as traffic investigators looked into what happened.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team of 17 people to Seattle, and Mayor Ed Murray said they were taking over the investigation.

There was no immediate word about the cause of the crash, but initial reports described the accident as a head-on collision.

Three dozen people were on board the duck boat, including the driver, who is certified by the Coast Guard and a licensed commercial driver, company President Brian Tracey said.

Tourists on board the duck boat said they were taking photographs when they were thrown from the vehicle.

Efforts are being made to contact consulates because foreign students were on the charter bus who were from different countries, Murray said.

Witnesses said they heard a loud screech and saw injured people lying on the pavement or wandering around in a daze.

North Seattle College spokeswoman Melissa Mixon said 45 students and staff with the school’s international programs were on one of two charter buses on their way to downtown Seattle.

“It was to be a fun introduction to Seattle,” she said.

University of Washington visiting scholar Kuen Shouh Wu (吳昆壽) says his 18-year-old daughter Ming Chao Wu was on the charter bus, but she was not hurt.

“I was scared. I don’t know why it happened,” he said.

The safety of the amphibious boats has been questioned before.

In 2010, a tugboat-guided barge plowed into a duck boat packed with tourists that had stalled in the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

The crash sank the duck boat and sent all 37 people aboard into the river. Two Hungarian students, who were visiting the US through a church exchange program, never resurfaced.

Their families received a settlement totaling US$15 million after filing wrongful-death lawsuits against the tugboat and tour boat owners.

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