• Bus driver may face vehicular homicide charges in double fatality crash


    OLYMPIA, Wash. - A Sound Transit bus driver who authorities say is responsible for a crash that killed a couple in Kirkland last year could be charged with vehicular homicide and other crimes.

    Investigators said a bus driven by Aleksandr Rukhlin on May 6, 2013, was headed northbound on Interstate 405 and exited on the HOV ramp to 128th Street.  The bus had a red light, but didn't stop when it slammed into an SUV, according to police.

    The crash injured the SUV’s driver, Kendall Rotta, and killed his parents, Robert and Elizabeth Rotta.

    See photos from the crash here.

    Rukhlin told troopers he lost control of the bus because the brakes failed, but WSP Sgt. Jerry Cooper said that after testing the bus, all of its mechanical components were fully functional.

    An investigation was launched by the State Patrol’s Major Accident Investigation Team.

    It concluded that the bus hit the SUV at about 45 mph, and though passengers reported yelling at the driver to stop the bus, Rukhlin continued through the crash and back onto northbound I-405. 

    Investigators said the bus traveled nearly three-quarters of a mile before passengers were able to intervene and get the bus stopped. It took one minute and 13 seconds for the bus to come to a complete stop after the crash occurred, the WSP said.

    Police said Rukhlin was otherwise cooperative throughout the investigation and agreed to perform a voluntary drug influence evaluation and blood test.  Both tests were negative.

    The results of the State Patrol’s investigation were released Wednesday.  Investigators have asked the King County Prosecutor’s Office to consider charges of two counts of vehicular homicide, one count of vehicular assault and one count of fatal hit-and-run.

    It is up to the prosecutor to determine if charges will be filed against Rukhlin.

    Previous stories:

    Two dead, others injured in possible runaway bus crash (May 7, 2013)

    WSP: Brakes were not an issue in Kirkland bus crash (June 13, 2013)

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