A wrongful-death lawsuit has been filed against Ride the Ducks tour company, the City of Seattle, and the State of Washington on behalf of Runjie Song, the youngest victim of a Sept. 24 crash that killed five people and injured 62 others.
Ms. Song, 17, a native of Beijing, China, was an international exchange student set to begin studying at North Seattle College. She and other students of the college, many of whom were from other countries, were on an orientation tour of Seattle when their tour bus was struck by an amphibious Ride the Ducks tour bus on a narrow bridge.
The amphibious bus, nicknamed the duck bus, was built to travel both as a bus and a boat for military purposes during World War II. It was determined the bus in question had a defective axle that failed as it was traveling over the Aurora Bridge on State Route 99, sending it into the path of oncoming traffic.
Lawyers for Ms. Song’s family allege that the Ride the Duck companies “failed to properly maintain the WWII-era amphibious vehicle” and said that it was subject to a 2013 service bulletin, which addressed the “dangerous defects in the axle housing of the vehicles.”
The complaint alleges that Ride the Ducks never followed the service bulletin’s repair recommendations and sent a dangerous bus onto the road.
The lawsuit also faults city and state transportation officials for failing to properly maintain the Aurora Bridge and for allowing the extra-wide tourist vehicles to travel on the notoriously narrow bridge with narrow lanes, no center median, and no shoulders.
According to the complaint, the lanes on the bridge are “at least 18 inches narrower than required by current design standards (and only 12 inches wider than the Duck Buses that the City allowed to traverse the span every day).”
The lawsuit, filed April 6 in King County Superior Court, seeks punitive damages from the Ride the Ducks companies.
On March 31, another Ride the Ducks bus collided with a Toyota Camry in Seattle. Police said that both vehicles tried to make a turn onto Fifth Ave. in downtown Seattle from separate lanes when they crashed. No injuries were reported in that accident.