A collision between an amphibious tour bus and a charter bus on Seattle’s Aurora Bridge on Thursday, September 24, 2015 resulted in four fatalities and more than a dozen critical injuries. Several more dozen people were transported to area hospitals following the crash. The victims who sustained the worst injuries were transported to Harborview Medical Center for evaluation and treatment. All fatalities were determined to be international college students attending North Seattle College. Each student hailed from a different country: Privando Putradanto, aged 18, was from Indonesia; Claudia Derschmidt, aged 49, was from Austria; Mami Sato, 36, was from Japan. The final fatality was a student from China whose name is being withheld due to the victim being of minor age.
The amphibious vehicle was a Ride the Ducks tour bus. Officials from the company have reported that they will not be sending anymore amphibious buses on tours until further notice. The charter bus was owned by Bellair Charters. The deadly collision between these two vehicles took place on Washington’s State Route 99. The cause of the crash remains unknown at this time, although witnesses have stated that the amphibious bus appeared to veer into the charter bus. The investigation into the contributing factors leading up to the accident, headed by the National Transportation Safety Board, continues.
The Aurora Bridge and surrounding roadways was closed for several hours pending the crash, which left extensive damage to both vehicles directly involved. The roads have since been re-opened, although the investigation into the crash will mean NTSB officials on site in the near future, examining the structure of the bridge itself in order to determine if structural issues may have played a contributing role in the crash. The vehicles themselves, as well as the drivers of the vehicles, will also undergo a thorough investigation in order to determine the main factor that caused the tragic accident.
Ride the Ducks tours are a popular attraction for tourists who wish to see the sights from land and on the water, as the vehicles double as boats in the waterways. However, Ride the Ducks buses have been involved in fatal collisions in the past: this year, one of the amphibious vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Pennsylvania, and back in 2010 one of the bus-boats became disabled in the water and was subsequently struck by another boat, leading to the deaths of two tourists from Hungary.