SEATTLE — Seattle police officers arrested a man who they said stole an empty school bus and rammed cars as he fled from officers Tuesday morning in the SoDo and Central District neighborhoods.
Officers said the man’s rampage and chase in the 33,000 pound bus lasted about 15 minutes. Authorities think up to 20 vehicles were hit.
At 7:15 a.m., police received a report that a man had stolen an empty bus near South Horton and Colorado Avenue South.
He then drove through the SoDo neighborhood, swerving across traffic, running red lights, and appeared to intentionally ram other vehicles, according to Seattle Police.
The driver then headed east, reaching Rainier and McClellan in South Seattle, ramming more vehicles along the way.
One of the cars he hit belonged to C.Y. Lee, whose Suzuki was almost done getting repaired at King Transmission. Lee said a tech was taking his car out for a final test drive, when the driver of the stolen bus smashed into the tech.
“He said you’re not going to get your car back, and that was kind of surprising. He went on to explain it had been hit by a bus. That blew my mind,” Lee said.
“The car is totaled, but it’s amazing the tech who was driving the car is okay,” he said.
Because of the risk to the public, police chased the driver, who reached speeds of more than 50 mph.
The driver continued north on Rainier, turning onto 23rd Avenue, where he hit a Metro Bus and later crashed into a light rail station construction site at 23rd Avenue and Judkins Street in the Central District.
The man finally hit a King County bus station, completely ripping it out from the ground outside Wood Technology Center. The white bus only came to a stop after hitting a concrete retaining wall.
The man then got out of the bus and ran but was quickly arrested a short distance away.
The man was taken to the hospital. He will be booked into the King County Jail for investigation of vehicular assault and auto theft.
“We’re trying to get this person charged with vehicular assault because of the intentionality of the crashes,” said Seattle Police Department Detective Patrick Michaud.
Police said the man is a bus service employee with TransWest who is not qualified to drive.
“We are evaluating the situation internally at this time and will be working with local law enforcement in their investigation,” a statement from TransWest said.
Several minor injuries were reported to police, but investigators are still seeking witnesses or other victims.
If you believe your vehicle or property was hit by the bus in the SoDo or Central District neighborhoods, you are asked to call 911.
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