Investigators said they don’t yet know the exact cause of Tuesday night’s fatal crash between a Sound Transit bus and an SUV in Kirkland. Two people in the SUV died. Investigators are looking into whether the bus’ brakes malfunctioned.
The Washington state patrol plans to do a full inspection of the Sound Transit bus. They’re looking into whether the bus had some kind of mechanical problems. Trooper Julie Judson was one of the emergency responders at the scene of the crash. She said the bus driver told troopers the brakes weren’t working.
“That has not been substantiated; we’re working a very full work-up of that bus,” Judson said. “At this time, we don’t know if it will turn out that there are some mechanical issues with the bus, or was it driver error?”
The collision happened when the Sound Transit bus was exiting off of I-405 near Totem Lake. The SUV that was struck had a green light, but the bus plowed into it.
Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray called the collision horrible and “terrifying for everyone involved.” He said the bus had been checked within the last week. “All of our buses, before they ever leave the yard, go through a pretty intense inspection, a pre-trip inspection that also checks the brakes — similar to what a pilot goes through, as he does a pre-flight take off,” he said.
It’s also the first time that Sound Transit has had such an incident, according to Gray.
Sound Transit’s bus is operated and maintained by Community Transit in Snohomish County. A spokesman for that agency said they’ve turned over their maintenance records to the state patrol.
Community Transit said their buses undergo preventative maintenance checks every 6,000 miles, which translates into every two to three weeks for the bus involved in the crash.
The driver of the bus has nine months of experience. He works for a private subcontractor, First Transit, which could not be reached for comment.