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'There were bodies, just everywhere': Survivors describe the horrifying scene after duck boat hit a bus in Seattle and left four students dead and 52 injured

Seattle Fire Department attend duck tour vehicle collision that left 4 dead

  • 'We didn't see anything. Just the sound. The smell of gas,' said Rujia Xie, a 16-year-old from China who was on the bus on Thursday
  • Crash involving amphibious vehicle occurred on Seattle's Aurora Bridge while dozens of tourists were on board 
  • Around 52 people were evaluated for injuries at the scene. Twelve were taken to hospital in a critical condition  
  • Tourists were seen crawling from the wreckage in the aftermath, others were seen being taken away in stretchers
  • There were 45 international students from North Seattle College were on board the bus 
  • The Ride the Ducks vehicles are styled on landing crafts used in the Second World War and has no seatbelts

Two exchange students who were on a bus that collided with a Duck Tour vehicle in Seattle on Thursday spoke out about the horrifying experience later that day.

The crash happened on the Aurora Bridge, which carries one of the city's main north-south highways over a lake. Four students were killed in the crash and at least two people were in critical condition among the 51 people authorities said were transported to hospitals.

'We didn't see anything. Just the sound. The smell of gas,' said Rujia Xie, a 16-year-old from China, who was on the bus carrying about 45 North Seattle College students and staff. The group was headed to Safeco Field as part of new-student orientation programs and were only there for three days.

North Seattle College student Rujia Xie (left) and Mingyue Lu (right) both international students from China who were on the charter bus that crashed, told reporters at North Seattle College on Thursday that glass fell on their faces and they jumped from the bus. Xie held an ice pack to her injured cheek as she spoke

North Seattle College student Rujia Xie (left) and Mingyue Lu (right) both international students from China who were on the charter bus that crashed, told reporters at North Seattle College on Thursday that glass fell on their faces and they jumped from the bus. Xie held an ice pack to her injured cheek as she spoke

Mayor on the scene: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (center) arrives the scene of a crash between a tour bus and a tourist duck boat that killed four students on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington on September 24. Murray said the National Transportation Safety Board was taking over the investigation and a federal team would arrive on Friday

Mayor on the scene: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (center) arrives the scene of a crash between a tour bus and a tourist duck boat that killed four students on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington on September 24. Murray said the National Transportation Safety Board was taking over the investigation and a federal team would arrive on Friday

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Addressing the tragedy: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, second from left, walks with Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole, right, and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, left, at the scene the fatal crash involving foreign exchange students at North Seattle College 

Addressing the tragedy: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, second from left, walks with Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole, right, and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, left, at the scene the fatal crash involving foreign exchange students at North Seattle College 

Statement: North Seattle College President Dr. Warren Brown reads a prewritten statement to members of the media at North Seattle College on Thursday. 'Our hearts go out to every student, employee and individual involved in this tragic accident,' said Dr. Warren Brown

Statement: North Seattle College President Dr. Warren Brown reads a prewritten statement to members of the media at North Seattle College on Thursday. 'Our hearts go out to every student, employee and individual involved in this tragic accident,' said Dr. Warren Brown

She said glass fell on their faces, and some people jumped from the bus.

Xie held a bag of ice against some bruises on her face as she left the North Seattle College campus, where the less seriously injured people on the bus were taken.

Xie told KOMO News that her phone went flying after the crash and that she hasn't been able to reach her family in China to tell them that she is alive and well.

Ming-Yue Lu who was also on the bus with Xie during the accident scratched her arm and had to be bandaged

There was no immediate word about the cause of the crash, which involved a military-style tour bus that can also be operated on water. Initial reports described the accident as a head-on collision.

A driver who was behind the duck boat said the tour bus and duck boat were headed in opposite directions. Brad Volm, of Philadelphia, said the amphibious vehicle swerved in front of him. 

The left front tire of the duck boat appeared to lock up, and the vehicle swerved into the oncoming charter bus, he said.

Cleaning up the scene: Police officers and other officials watch as a "Ride the Ducks" tourist vehicle is loaded onto a flatbed tow truck in the late evening on Thursday after it was involved in a fatal crash with a charter passenger bus earlier in the day in Seattle

Cleaning up the scene: Police officers and other officials watch as a "Ride the Ducks" tourist vehicle is loaded onto a flatbed tow truck in the late evening on Thursday after it was involved in a fatal crash with a charter passenger bus earlier in the day in Seattle

Getting towed: A towing worker stands in front of the charter passenger bus that was involved in a fatal crash with a "Ride the Duck"s tourist vehicle earlier in the day on Thursday

Getting towed: A towing worker stands in front of the charter passenger bus that was involved in a fatal crash with a "Ride the Duck"s tourist vehicle earlier in the day on Thursday

Recovery: Police officers and other officials watch as a 'Ride the Ducks' tourist vehicle is loaded onto a flatbed tow truck in the late evening on Thursday. Four were killed in the crash and at least two people were in critical condition among the 51 people authorities said were transported to hospitals

Recovery: Police officers and other officials watch as a 'Ride the Ducks' tourist vehicle is loaded onto a flatbed tow truck in the late evening on Thursday. Four were killed in the crash and at least two people were in critical condition among the 51 people authorities said were transported to hospitals

Witnesses described hearing a loud screech and then seeing injured people lying on the pavement or wandering around in a daze.

Brad Volm, 23, of Philadelphia, was driving one of the SUVs involved in the crash, and described red fluid leaking from the Duck’s front left tire.

Another driver swerved to avoid the Duck and bus and Volm crashed head-on into that other vehicle, he told The Seattle Times.

'It all happened so fast,' said Volm, who was on a cross-country trip with his friend Bradley Sawhill. 

'I got out of my car and there were bodies just everywhere. People laying in the street.'

Nurse Jahna Dyer said she was walking across the bridge when she came upon the scene, a mess of jumbled metal and glass. Some victims were lying on the road. Others milled about, seemingly in shock and falling down.

Dyer jumped a railing separating the sidewalk from the roadway to help some of the victims.

John Mundell said he was at the south end of the bridge when the crash occurred.

'We could hear the screech and twisted metal. It was surreal,' he said, adding he saw what appeared to be a few dozen people on the ground. 'I wanted to try to help. I felt helpless.'

When emergency crews arrived, 'a lot of people were running at them,' pleading for help, Seattle fire Lt. Sue Stangl said.

The amphibious vehicle is operated by a tour company called Ride the Ducks, which offers tours that are known for exuberant drivers and guides who play loud music and quack through speakers as they lead tourists around the city.

Scene: There was a chaotic scene on the Aurora Bridge today as emergency services treated those on board the two buses and took them to hospital. Four people died and 12 were critically injured in the deadly collision

Scene: There was a chaotic scene on the Aurora Bridge today as emergency services treated those on board the two buses and took them to hospital. Four people died and 12 were critically injured in the deadly collision

At least four people have died and at least 52 people have been injured after a bus carrying college students collided with a Duck Tour vehicle in Seattle, Washington 

At least four people have died and at least 52 people have been injured after a bus carrying college students collided with a Duck Tour vehicle in Seattle, Washington 

A victim from a fatal crash involving the amphibious tour bus and a charter bus is loaded into an ambulance

A victim from a fatal crash involving the amphibious tour bus and a charter bus is loaded into an ambulance

Company President Brian Tracey said he did not know what happened.

'Our main concern right now is with the families of those hurt and killed,' he said.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who visited the crash scene, said the National Transportation Safety Board was taking over the investigation and a federal team would arrive on Friday.

North Seattle College spokeswoman Melissa Mixon said students and staff from the school's international program were among those injured, and counselors were on hand.

The school confirmed in a statement Thursday evening that the four people killed were foreign students and government officials were trying to contact family members.

The charter bus, left, and the amphibious, military-style tour vehicle collided in a deadly crash involving several vehicles Thursday

The charter bus, left, and the amphibious, military-style tour vehicle collided in a deadly crash involving several vehicles Thursday

Personnel remove a victim's body from the scene of a crash between a Ride the Ducks vehicle and a charter bus on Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington, on Thursday

Personnel remove a victim's body from the scene of a crash between a Ride the Ducks vehicle and a charter bus on Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington, on Thursday

Four people were killed and 12 critically injured on Thursday when an amphibious tour bus collided head-on with a charter bus on a Seattle bridge, authorities said. Here one of the bodies is removed from the scene

Four people were killed and 12 critically injured on Thursday when an amphibious tour bus collided head-on with a charter bus on a Seattle bridge, authorities said. Here one of the bodies is removed from the scene

'Our hearts go out to every student, employee and individual involved in this tragic accident,' said Dr. Warren Brown, president of North Seattle College. 'At this time, our main focus is to concentrate on the well-being of our students.'

Brown said they do plan to make sure each of the students get back to their host families tonight in Seattle.

Kuen Shouh Wu said his 18-year-old daughter was on the charter bus but was not hurt. He and his daughter, Ming Chao Wu, are from Taiwan, and he is a visiting scholar at the University of Washington. Wu said when he learned of the accident, he came to the school.

'I was scared,' he said. 'I don't know why it happened.'

The bridge was expected to be closed for hours. It has three lanes in each direction and no barrier separating the north and southbound lanes.

The crash occurred near Canlis, one of the city's fanciest restaurants. The restaurant announced it would close for the night in response, and it employees brought food to first responders.

The safety of the amphibious boats has been questioned before. Lawyer Steve Bulzomi represented a motorcyclist who was run over and dragged by a Ride the Ducks boat that came up behind him at a stoplight in downtown Seattle in 2011.

Firefighters and paramedics tend to people in the triage unit set up on the road after the horrific collision 

Firefighters and paramedics tend to people in the triage unit set up on the road after the horrific collision 

An aerial scene shows debris strewn all over the narrow bridge in between the fire engines and ambulances 

An aerial scene shows debris strewn all over the narrow bridge in between the fire engines and ambulances 

Survivors of the crash were escorted away from the accident and off the bridge

Survivors of the crash were escorted away from the accident and off the bridge

'These are military craft that were never designed to navigate narrow city streets,' Bulzomi said on Thursday. 'This is a business model that requires the driver to be a driver, tour guide and entertainer at the same time.'

Several witnesses say the saw the Duck vehicle swerve into the side of the tour bus. Some then watched as people were sent flying out of the bus into the street.

Jesse Christenson, 32, from Portland told the Seattle Times: 'The Duck boat was 100 yards in front of me, the first car in front of me. 

'What I saw was the Duck Boat had its blinker on, trying to get in the left lane. Then all of a sudden the Duck boat turned sharper into the left. I initially thought it was a blow out. 

'The duck boat then hit another car with a roof rack then went head on into the into oncoming tour bus.'

He added that he initially thought the Duck vehicle had a tire blowout - but on closer inspection he said it may have been a vehicle malfunction.

Ride The Ducks is a popular tourist tour in Seattle that started in 1997. 

An injured person is taken to an ambulance at the scene of a crash between the tour bus and a tourist duck boat

An injured person is taken to an ambulance at the scene of a crash between the tour bus and a tourist duck boat

A woman with cuts on her face and her arm in a sling is taken into the back of an ambulance following the collision 

A woman with cuts on her face and her arm in a sling is taken into the back of an ambulance following the collision 

A patient is carried on a stretcher in a neck brace by two medical personnel. A large number of those injured could not speak English 

A patient is carried on a stretcher in a neck brace by two medical personnel. A large number of those injured could not speak English 

A medical examiner checks the scene of a crash. Witnesses say the Duck Tour vehicle swerved and slammed into the bus 

A medical examiner checks the scene of a crash. Witnesses say the Duck Tour vehicle swerved and slammed into the bus 

An emergency worker walks in front of a charter bus that had its two front windows blown out in the collision 

An emergency worker walks in front of a charter bus that had its two front windows blown out in the collision 

The company owns at least 20 amphibious vehicles, some of which were used as landing craft during the Second World War. 

In 2010, a tugboat-guided barge plowed into a duck boat packed with tourists that had stalled in the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

The crash sank the duck boat and sent all 37 people aboard into the river. Two Hungarian students — 16-year-old Dora Schwendtner and 20-year-old Szabolcs Prem — never resurfaced. 

They were visiting the U.S. through a church exchange program. Their families received a settlement totaling $15 million after filing wrongful-death lawsuits against the tugboat and tour boat owners.

People with bandaged arms are seen standing beside the charter bus that was involved in the crash 

People with bandaged arms are seen standing beside the charter bus that was involved in the crash 

Two of the victims speak to a member of the emergency services as they evaluate the scene. Most were treated at a triage center set up at the crash site 

Two of the victims speak to a member of the emergency services as they evaluate the scene. Most were treated at a triage center set up at the crash site 

Reports suggest tourists were seen crawling out of the wreckage, and a triage center was set up near the scene

A passenger who was on board the Duck bus said the captain was pointing out various sites when the traffic slowed down before the crash 

One witness told told the station he saw the Duck vehicle swerve into the side of the tour bus. He then saw people flying out of the bus into the street

Tug operator Matt Devlin was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Devlin acknowledged the accident was caused largely by his continuous use of a cellphone and laptop computer while he was steering the barge.

In July, the family of a woman struck and killed by an amphibious tourist boat in Philadelphia filed a wrongful-death lawsuit.

Attorneys for Elizabeth Karnicki's family allege the May 8 accident, which occurred during rush hour, was due in part to "huge blind spots" on the duck boats.

Four people have died and at least 52 people have been injured after a bus carrying college students collided with a Duck Tour vehicle.

The crash involving the amphibious vehicle occurred around 11:15 a.m (PT) on the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington, while dozens of tourists were in the middle of a tour. 

Passengers were seen crawling out of the wreckage and were then treated at a triage center set up near the scene. Twelve of those injured were taken to hospital in critical condition.

The Seattle Fire Department added that almost 50 people were evaluated at the scene - but the full extent of the injuries and casualties is not yet known and the cause of the crash is also unclear.. 

The Ride the Duck tour vehicles, which are styled on landing crafts used in the Second World War, do not have any seat-belts.  

It is not the first incident involving the tour bus. In July, a Ride the Ducks vehicle hit a pedestrian. 

Emergency vehicles surround the site of a deadly crash between the charter bus and the amphibious tour vehicle. Police examine a piece of wreckage at the scene 

Emergency vehicles surround the site of a deadly crash between the charter bus and the amphibious tour vehicle. Police examine a piece of wreckage at the scene 

The cause of the crash has not yet been confirmed by police. The roads have been closed in both directions

The cause of the crash has not yet been confirmed by police. The roads have been closed in both directions

Some witnesses believed the crash could have initially been caused by a tire blowout. But on closer inspection one believed the vehicle may have malfunctioned 

Some witnesses believed the crash could have initially been caused by a tire blowout. But on closer inspection one believed the vehicle may have malfunctioned 

Police cars stationed at one end of the bridge stop traffic from getting any closer. The road was closed in both directions in the aftermath

Police cars stationed at one end of the bridge stop traffic from getting any closer. The road was closed in both directions in the aftermath

The Ride the Duck tour vehicles, which are styled on landing crafts used in the Second World War, do not have any seat-belts (file picture)

The Ride the Duck tour vehicles, which are styled on landing crafts used in the Second World War, do not have any seat-belts (file picture)

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Comment by Contonila Goodman on September 26, 2015 at 4:32am

Phoooowerrr!! No seatbelts fitted....qwack qwack stupid.

Comment by Jerimiah 1:4--10 on September 25, 2015 at 1:04pm
Final Destination, just like the movie!

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