4 dead, dozens injured after Ride the Ducks vehicle, bus crash

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SEATTLE —

A Ride the Ducks tour vehicle and a charter bus carrying foreign college students collided on the busy Aurora bridge Thursday, killing four people and sending dozens to hospitals in a wreck that scattered crumpled metal and broken glass on the road.

 KIRO 7 News logged reports in the thread below on Thursday. See Friday's story on the victims here.


QUICK FACTS:

  • Ride the Ducks vehicle, charter bus, 2 passenger vehicles involved
  • 4 dead were college students
  • 50 inspected at scene for injures
  • 44 sent to area hospitals
  • 7 additional to hospitals for minor injuries
  • Three patients are still in critical
  • Victims' families can call (206) 461-3200 for information

[11:23 p.m.] The Aurora Bridge is open to traffic in both directions.

>> Photos from the scene | Raw video from crash site

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[11:15 p.m.] The southbound lanes of the Aurora Bridge reopened to traffic.

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[10:58 p.m.] The Ride the Ducks vehicle and charter bus were towed away just before 11 p.m.

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[9:13 p.m.] Mayor Ed Murray advised there would be a conference with city officials and officials with North Seattle College -- on Friday, at 10:00 a.m.

[7:48 p.m.] The damaged Ride the Duck vehicle was loaded onto a tow truck, as officials continued to clear the scene of the tragic collision on the Aurora Bridge. 

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[6:52 p.m.] Early evening recap: National Transportation Safety Board has taken over the investigation that killed four international college students and sent dozens of others to area hospitals.

Fifteen patients are still in critical, many of whom are students. A couple of victims are in surgery. 

An international student program from North Seattle College was on the bus. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said the city is working with State Department of Consulates; it's unclear how many countries are involved. Additionally, government officials are working to contact next of kin for the deceased.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families of these deceased students, as well as to the students and employee who sustained injuries. No words are adequate to express the absolute pain and sorrow we all feel as a result of receiving this devastating news," North Seattle College President Warren Brown wrote.

Officials have not given a confirmed account of what led up to the crash, but a witness told KIRO 7 News that "the left front wheel of the Duck bus locked up, causing it to swerve onto the oncoming traffic, then T-boning the tour bus." 

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North and southbound lanes of the Aurora Bridge is still shut down for the investigation, and it could stay closed until Friday.   

Seattle Department of Transportation will be doing a bridge inspection to make sure the bridge is safe for drivers.

Ride the Ducks tour vehicles – described as military-style tour buses that can also be operated on water – voluntarily withdrew from the streets.

In coming days, city leaders are working with Ride the Ducks on what to do with vehicles on Seattle streets going forward. 

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Seattle Police Department has set up a hotline for anyone who witnessed today's Aurora Bridge collision to contact investigators: 206-233-5000. Victims' families can call 2-1-1 for information. For more on the information line, click here.

[6 p.m.] Mayor Ed Murray said in a news briefing on Thursday night that "our hearts" go out to the victims and their families.

Leaders are working to move traffic through the city, the best they can as the investigation continues.

""I ask for your patience as we work to investigate and clear the scene. Travel will be impacted in Seattle," Murray said.

[5:58 p.m.] Bloodworks Northwest said the response for their request for blood donations after the Ride the Ducks charter bus crash has been overwhelming. Click here for traffic alerts. 

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[5:53 p.m.] The news conference with Seattle mayor and leaders has been pushed back to 6 p.m. We're streaming live now. Watch here.

[5:35 p.m.] In the latest from Harborview Medical Center, two patients have been discharged from the hospital.

Sixteen patients remain in HMC's care: two in critical intensive care, nine in serious intensive care, four in satisfactory, and one is satisfactory

[5:34 p.m.] Temporary bus lanes opened on Westlake to help Metro bus riders. Interstate 5 traffic continues to build. Read about street closures and buses rerouted here.

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[5:22 p.m.] Every emergency room in Seattle was accepting patients from this crash. Forty-four patients were rushed to Harborview's Level One Trauma Units -- Swedish Ballard, Swedish Cherry Hill, Swedish First Hill, Northwest Hospital, and Group Health.

Patients at these locations are still recovering.

>> VIDEO: Fatal Ducks-bus crash affecting traffic

[4:56 p.m.] Mayor Murray and department directors will give an update on the SR-99 collision. Chief Kathleen O’Toole, SPD; Chief Harold Scoggins, SFD; and Director Scott Kubly, SDOT, will join him from the Seattle Emergency Operations Center.

Watch the briefing here on kirotv.com.

[4:22 p.m.] Interstate 5 traffic is starting to get heavy as the bridge remains closed. Northbound 99 is closed at Western, SB at 46th.

Meanwhile, three tow trucks are enroute to help clear the crash.

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[4:19 p.m.] United States Coast Guard is asking mariners to delay transiting Lake Washington Ship Canal until Aurora Bridge is cleared.

[4:00 p.m.] A Seattle restaurant located on Aurora closed out of respect for the victims. Servers are out on the street, giving food to first responders.

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[3:43 p.m.] North Seattle College released an updated statement saying two buses were out carrying students and employees from its International Programs to Safeco Field as part of a new student orientation. One of the buses was involved in the crash.

"At this time, we don't yet know the exact number of students on the bus or the status of their injuries. However, we are working closely with authorities to learn more," the statement said. "Our hearts go out to every student, employee and individual involved in this tragic accident. At this time, our main focus is to concentrate on the well-being of our students and to notify their families as quickly as possible we learn information."

[3:35 p.m.] Investigators are still trying to find out what led up to the crash. The Ride the Ducks vehicle and charter bus are still in the middle of the bridge.

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[2:59 p.m.] A National Transportation Safety Board team will investigate the collision.

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>> VIDEO: NTSB investigators responding to fatal Ducks boat-charter bus crash

[2:53 p.m.] Harborview Medical Center, an entity of UW Medicine, has received a total of 17 patients from the Ride the Duck/tour bus in crash. Ages range from a 17-year-old female to a 61-year-old male.

Three patients are in surgery. Thirty less seriously injured patients were triaged by Harborview's Disaster Control Center to other hospitals.   

[2:49 p.m.] Swedish Medical Center has 16 patients across three campuses. They released the following list: 

Swedish Ballard:

  1. 43-year-old female, Condition: Good
  2. 20-year-old female, Condition: Serious
  3. 18-year-old male, Condition: Fair
  4. 3-year-old female, Condition: Fair/Serious
  5. 19-year-old female, Condition: Good

Swedish First Hill:

  1. 17-year-old female, Condition: fair
  2. 19-year-old male, Condition: fair
  3. 46-year-old female, Condition: serious
  4. 59-year-old female, Condition: serious

Swedish Cherry Hill:

  1. 31-year-old female, Condition: stable
  2. 54-year-old female, Condition: stable
  3. 65-year-old female, Condition: serious
  4. 57-year-old female, Condition: stable
  5. 73-year-old female, Condition: stable
  6. 23-year-male, Condition: stable
  7. 20-year-old female, Condition: critical

[2:36 p.m.] An SUV driver who was involved in the deadly crash on the bridge said a charter bus and the tour vehicle were headed in opposite directions when they collided.

Associated Press reports 23-year-old Brad Volm, of Philadelphia, said he was driving behind the duck boat, heading north on the Aurora Avenue bridge, when the amphibious vehicle swerved in front of him. Volm says it appeared the duck boat's front left tire locked up, and the vehicle swerved into the oncoming charter bus.

Seattle police and fire officials have not confirmed the chain of events leading to the crash, but they said initial reports described it as a head-on collision.

[2:15] Buses are heading out early, some have already arrived at schools to prepare for delays due to bridge crash. Schools are notifying all 53,000 families. Click here for traffic alerts. 

[2:12 p.m.] Early afternoon recap: A head-on crash involving a school charter bus an amphibious Ride the Ducks vehicle has killed four people and sent over 44 patients to Harborview Medical Center and other area hospitals. 

As of 2 p.m., HMC told KIRO 7 News eight people were in critical with three in surgery, eight were in serious, and one person in satisfactory. At the scene, 50 people were inspected for injuries. 

Several other passenger vehicles were involved in the crash.

The City’s Emergency Operations Center was activated for response efforts -- as  north and southbound lanes of the Aurora Bridge are currently shut down for the accident investigation.

Mayor Ed Murray said foreign students were on the charter bus, and efforts were being made to contact consulates.

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Associated Press reports the charter bus was from Bellair Charters and Airporter, based in Ferndale, Washington. A message left with the company's president wasn't immediately returned.

Scroll down for additional information as it came into the KIRO 7 Newsroom.

[2:02 p.m.] Bloodworks Northwest has issued an urgent appeal to blood donors to help meet critical needs in response to the crash. O-positive & O-negative blood types are especially needed. Click here for donation centers.

“With up to 40 people with injuries, we are responding quickly to additional orders for blood components from multiple hospitals receiving people injured in the crash,” said James P. AuBuchon, M.D., president and chief executive officer. “We need to meet this emergency demand and also to replenish supplies so that we can continue to meet normal patient needs.”

[1:54 p.m.] Family members looking for loved ones involved in the crash are advised to call the Harborview hotline -- at (206) 520-5200.

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From Mayor Ed Murray: “The Aurora Avenue Bridge will remain closed and may remain closed into the evening commute. To accommodate rerouted traffic, the Fremont Avenue Bridge will remain open to street traffic, but closed to boat openings for the time-being.”

[1:45 p.m.] As the investigation continues, traffic is heavy into Seattle from southbound Interstate 5. Northbound and southbound Aurora is closed with no estimated time on its reopening. Click here for traffic alerts. Download the KIRO 7 News app for alerts on traffic.

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[1:28 p.m.] North Seattle College released a statement on the bus accident. 

"Students and employees who were involved in the accident are being transported to campus where counselors will be on hand to support them. We are working to learn the status of all students and employees involved in the accident and will provide an update as soon as possible."

Mayor Ed Murray said the foreign students were on the charter bus, and efforts were being made to contact consulates. He had no other details.

[1:27 p.m.] Ride the Ducks president said he is unsure if the company will be open for tours on Friday.

"Safety of our passengers is our number one concern," he said.

[1:21 p.m.] An eyewitness tells KIRO 7 News that "the left front wheel of the Duck bus locked up, causing it to swerve onto the oncoming traffic, then t-boning the tour bus."

[1:15 p.m.] Aurora Bridge to remain closed for several hours as fire and police respond to a collision involving serious injuries. Use alternate routes.

[1:02 p.m.] Harborview Medical Center said none of the 14 patients they have recieved, including 12 critical, have died. Doctors are seeing a range of injuries from broken bones to face and head injuries.

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[12:53 p.m.] Four are confirmed dead from the crash, city leaders said in the latest briefing. Seattle Fire updated the number of those seriously injured to 14.

Ninety firefighters responded to what Mayor Ed Murray called a terrible tragedy.

>> VIDEO: Mayor, police chief speak in wake of mass casualty crash

[12:50 p.m.] Aurora Bridge will be closed the rest of the day.

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[12:40 p.m.] Ride the Ducks closed tours for the rest of the day out of respect.

[12:37 p.m.] The Associated Press reported they called the Ride the Ducks corporate office, a man who answered the phone said the company had no immediate comment.

[12:33 p.m.] North Seattle College confirms 45 students and staff from its international program were in the crash.

[12:29 p.m.] More people are leaving the scene by another charter bus.

[12:27 p.m.] SB 99 is closed at Western Avenue and SB at N. 46th Street. Drivers should expect long delays.

[12:11 p.m.] During a briefing with Seattle fire, Lt. Sue Stangl said a majority of significant injuries are from the charter bus. The two people killed were likely on the charter bus, not Ride the Ducks.

Nine people have been sent to hospitals in critical condition. Stangl said 12 people suffered minor injuries that would require hospital visits, and officials evaluated 30 other passengers on the vehicles who didn't need further treatment.

>> VIDEO: Seattle Fire Department briefing on mass casualty crash

There are 50 total injuries.

It is unclear exactly what led up to the crash.

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[12:04 p.m.] A source inside Harborview Medical Center told KIRO 7 News that "the whole place here is mobilized. All trauma surgeons in the ER & OR."

An eyewitness said the Ride the Ducks vehicle overcorrected, collided with charter bus in opposite direction.

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[11:58 a.m.] Seattle fire confirmed two people are dead and nine others have critical injuries.

[11:50 a.m.] As many as nine people need immediate care for injuries.

[11:45 a.m.] All patients have been extricated. Seattle Fire Department said about 50 people were evaluated.

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[11:37 a.m.] Wounded are walking around the crash scene as at least two others are strapped to backboards.

>> Photos from the scene.

[11:31 a.m.] A triage center is set up on the Aurora Bridge. KIRO 7 Chopper shows firefighters extricating riders from the Ride The Ducks vehicle.

[11:15 a.m.] The Ride The Ducks-charter bus collision is blocking all northbound and southbound lanes.

Police and firefighters are responding to the crash.

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The amphibious, military-style tour vehicles are operated by a tour company called Ride the Ducks and are known for exuberant drivers and tour guides who play loud music and quack through megaphones as they lead tourists around the city.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report