Driver of Ride the Ducks vehicle explains what happened before fatal crash

By: Natasha Chen

Updated:

QUICK FACTS:

  • Ride the Ducks vehicle, charter bus, 2 passenger vehicles involved
  • 5 dead were college students
  • 50 inspected at scene for injured
  • 44 sent to area hospitals
  • 7 additional to hospitals for minor injuries

In newly released documents from the National Transportation Safety Board, the driver of the Ride the Ducks vehicle involved in the crash described the final moments before a collision that killed five people and injured dozens more on Sept. 24, 2015.

In newly released documents from the National Transportation Safety Board, the driver of the Ride the Ducks vehicle involved in the crash described the final moments before a collision that killed five people and injured dozens more.

The NTSB also released photos, including a freeze frame of surveillance video, captured from a camera mounted at the front of the charter tour bus carrying 50 North Seattle College students. The photo shows the Ride the Ducks vehicle crossing the solid yellow line into oncoming traffic.

Eric Bishop told investigators in detail about the rigorous process he went through each morning to check the vehicles before going out on a tour. The transcript of that description went on for 15 pages.

Bishop said that when they drove over the second expansion joint on the Aurora Bridge, he heard a “clunk clunk” noise.

He said the vehicle veered to the right by itself, coming close to the edge of the bridge. Bishop said he corrected it by turning the steering wheel to the left, but it felt extremely loose.

“And the duck suddenly went wham and took a hard veer to the left. I hit the brakes,” he told investigators.

Later, he said the steering wheel didn’t move, as if someone had welded it shut. Unable to drive the vehicle, Bishop said he felt like a passenger.

“I was just a passenger and coming down. I see the bus coming. There’s nothing I can do,” he said.

A Washington state law about wrongful death claims may preclude three families from seeking compensation after their children died in the crash involving a Ride the Ducks amphibious vehicle.

One of them, Runjie Song, was a 17-year-old student from China. Washington state law allows parents to seek compensation for the death of minor children.

Of the four adults killed, Claudia Derschmidt was the only one who had children.

The remaining three victims are 20-year-old Ha Ram Kim, 36-year-old Mami Sato, and 18-year-old Privando Putradanto. None of them had spouses or children.

Their parents are now suing Ride the Ducks, but may run into problems because they do not live in the U.S.

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