As lunch was served at North Seattle College’s annual Presidents’ Day breakfast and school year kick-off for staff, news alerts appeared on phone screens of staff and student leaders. North Seattle College president, Warren Brown, rose to announce the that a tour bus full of International students from the college had collided with a “Ride the Ducks” tour vehicle on the Aurora bridge.
As witnesses described, the “Ride the Ducks” vehicle “lost control”, veering across three traffic lanes and crashing into the middle of the bus. “We could hear the screech and twisted metal. It was surreal,” said one witness, John Mundell. There was a lack of seat belts on both busses and witnesses also described seeing people thrown through the windows and onto the street. Over 50 officers and firemen arrived on the scene quickly, pulling people from the wreckage. However before the professionals arrived, it was up to bystanders to help as best they could. Jahna Dyer, a nurse, arrived at the scene and told Komo News that she rushed onto the road to help stabilize a man’s neck and help a woman remove glass from her eye. She said the woman held her hand and thanked her profusely for coming to her aid. 16 victims of the crash were then taken to Harbor View Medical Center, Seattle’s level-one trauma center, and treated for critical injuries.
On the tour bus were 48 International Students who had planned to spend their third day in Seattle touring downtown. This bus did not make it to the sights, however a second bus had already arrived downtown when the collision occurred. Students with very minor to no injuries were driven by officials to the Woodland Park Zoo to meet with students and staff from the college and taken back to campus, while the second bus rerouted back to campus as well. In North Seattle’s student leadership office, students and staff without cars began to disperse around campus to see where help was needed in order to prepare for the arrival of the students. As the chaos ensued, students from both busses were lead into the college’s Learning Center where they were given water, lunch, and computer access. Dozens of bags of ice and first-aid kits were brought to injured students until medics arrived at the college.
Two victims were found deceased on the scene of the accident, and later in the evening two more were pronounced dead. These four were North Seattle college students—a 49-year-old woman from Austria, a 36-year-old woman from Japan, a man from Indonesia, 18, and a 17-year-old girl from China. These students would not have the chance to begin their education at North. Friday morning, many staff and students gathered again at the school to the morn the loss of these students. North Seattle College president Dr. Warren Brown spoke for everyone at North when he told reporters: “Our hearts go out to every student, employee and individual involved in this tragic accident.”
Featured Photo: Emergency workers tend to the accident. Photo complements of NBC News.