Bus driver in Arboretum crash says he was using GPS, did not see bridge-height warning
A charter bus driver who crashed into a low pedestrian bridge in the Washington Park Arboretum on Wednesday, sending two dozen students and others to the hospital, has been cited with a $154 infraction.
Seattle Times staff reporters
A charter-bus driver who crashed into a low pedestrian bridge in the Washington Park Arboretum on Wednesday, sending two dozen students and others to the hospital, told police he was following a GPS system and did not see a sign warning of the bridge height, police said today.
Brad Adams, the 52-year-old driver, received a traffic infraction for hitting a structure with an impaired clearance, according to a Seattle Municipal Court spokeswoman. The ticket carries a fine of up to $154, said Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson.
The 12-foot-tall charter bus operated by Lynnwood-based Journey Lines got stuck in the 9-foot underpass near the Highway 520 onramp shortly after 6 p.m., according to a Seattle police report.
Police said that the driver claimed he was following a GPS system on which route to take and did not see the yellow sign indicating the bridge height, police said.
"All of a sudden, you hear this scraping, awful noise," Sigrid Williams, 17, who had been on board, said on Wednesday night.
Williams said her head slammed into the seat in front of her when the bus crashed.
Steve Abegg, president of Journey Lines, didn't return telephone calls today. On Wednesday night he said that driving through the Arboretum is not a normal route for the company.
The driver said Wednesday that he has driven for the company for the past year and a half.
Twenty-one Garfield High School softball players and their coach were on board, Seattle School District spokeswoman Patti Spencer said this morning.
Five of the girls were taken immediately by ambulances to Harborview Medical Center with neck and back pain, according to the Seattle Fire Department.
"All of the students and the coach were treated at Harborview last night," Spencer said.
The students were given today and Friday off from their classes to recover from the incident, Spencer added. Sixteen students took today off from school, district officials said.
The team was returning from a game against Lake Washington High School at Crestwoods Park in Kirkland. Garfield lost the game 10-0. All practices and games for the next two weeks have been canceled so the players can recover from the crash, said district spokesman David Tucker.
Tucker said the district has contracted with Journey Lines for at least 15 years.
Seattle Department of Transportation crews inspected the footbridge today and found little damage, said agency spokesman Rick Sheridan. The bridge remains open.
"There is no structural damage. There is only minor damage to the concrete," Sheridan said.
When Journey Lines was last inspected by the state Utilities and Transportation Commission in February the company was issued a satisfactory rating, said agency spokeswoman Marilyn Meehan.
Two years ago the company was issued a $300 fine after parents chaperoning students from Lowell Elementary School, in Everett, reported smelling fumes while on their way to an event. The company was cited for failing to maintain bus floors and for safety issues — there was mold growing on bus and inoperative emergency lights on board.
The company, which has been in business for 16 years, had no accidents between 2006 and 2007, Meehan said.
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Seattle Times staff reporter Steve Miletich and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.
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