• WSP: Brakes were not an issue in Kirkland bus crash

    By: David Ham


    KIRKLAND, Wash. - Investigators said there were no problems with the brakes on a Sound Transit bus that hit and killed a Bellevue couple.

    On May 6, the bus driver told troopers he lost control of the bus because the brakes failed.  The bus ran a red light in Kirkland and crashed into an SUV, killing the couple inside.

    Sergeant Jerry Cooper with the Washington State Patrol said that after testing the bus, all of the mechanical components were fully functional.

    Sound Transit said the bus also had a good maintenance history.

    "Based on the maintenance records we have, and the pictures of the maintenance, the regular preventative maintenance that went into this bus, everything was working like it should on the day that it went out," said Bruce Gray of Sound Transit.

    Since the crash, the bus driver Aleksandr Rukhlin has been put on unpaid leave by Sound Transit.  No one answered when KIRO 7 went to his house in Everett to ask about the brakes.  He told investigators after the crash that the brakes failed when he tried to engage them.

    Commercial bus drivers KIRO 7 spoke to shortly after the crash said these types of buses have pressurized air brakes that have fail-safes.

    KIRO 7 also talked to the family of Bob and Betty Rotta -- the Bellevue couple  who was killed when the bus hit their SUV in Kirkland.

    Ken Rotta was driving his parents at the time of the crash and wants to know what happened.

    “I’m glad the investigation is going forward.  I’m glad they’ve come to this point.  We do want to find out what happened, so we can get closure on it and so that it won’t happen again to somebody else.  If we can save lives, that would be the important thing," said Rotta.

    His brother, Phil Rotta, had a similar hope.

    “Is there something we can learn to prevent this from happening in the future?" said Phil Rotta.

    Sound Transit wouldn't say much about the new findings from state troopers.

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