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Originally published Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 7:06 PM

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Metro bus hits pedestrian, who heads off for coffee; driver arrested

A 32-year-old man who managed to get up and walk to a nearby Starbucks for a cup of coffee after being struck by a bus on Tuesday morning is recovering from his injuries at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center.

Seattle Times staff reporters

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Going for coffee may have been out of sheer shock. It's probably some sort of defense... MORE
My first thought, like others, is that this was pure Seattle. Except... why did he... MORE
They should check the pedestrians BAC also MORE

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A 32-year-old man who was hit by a bus Tuesday morning in downtown Seattle managed to get up and walk with a bloodied head to a nearby Starbucks for a cup of coffee.

The injured man, identified by police as Carl Gray, ordered a drip coffee at the Starbucks store at Westlake Center, said morning manager Tony Farrell. But he didn't get to enjoy the brew, and instead was taken by paramedics to Harborview Medical Center, where he is recovering from his injuries, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

The bus driver, who was suspected of driving under the influence, was taken into custody by police and also taken to Harborview, where his blood was drawn to determine whether he was impaired, police said. He was later released.

The results of the blood draw were not known Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Gray was attempting to cross Third Avenue around 7:15 a.m. when he was struck by King County Metro's Route 358 bus, said Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson. The windshield of the articulated bus was shattered in the collision, said police and Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore.

A police officer trained to evaluate whether drivers are impaired checked the bus driver at the scene and determined he was showing signs of impairment, police said.

Metro also performed a post-accident blood draw, and "based on our testing, the alcohol portion, there was no alcohol involved," transit spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershok said. The analysis for drugs could take a couple of weeks, she said.

Paul Bachtel, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, said he had spoken with the driver, who claimed that he passed both the police-administered blood test and a test by Metro.

"He sounded sober to me," said Bachtel.

The driver has at least 20 years experience, Bachtel said. "I've known him for years. I've never noticed anything like that. I'd be surprised."

It appears the driver initially declined a police request because he was expecting Metro to do the blood test, said Ogershok.

Metro rules forbid use of alcohol within four hours of starting a shift, or working under the influence, she said. She says Metro has a lower blood-alcohol threshold for a violation than state law: 0.02 percent compared with 0.08 percent.

"Any violation of these policies is not tolerated. We put the safety of the public as our number one priority," Ogershok said.

Ogershok said she hopes "people don't jump to conclusions" until after further investigation.

Gray, the man struck by the bus, is a resident at Canaday House, an affordable-housing facility run by the Downtown Emergency Service Center. An official at Canaday House declined to comment about Gray, other than to confirm he was a resident.

After the accident, a Starbucks employee called 911 and police and paramedics followed him into the Westlake Center store, about a block from the accident scene.

The man seemed relatively lucid, said Farrell, the Starbucks manager. Gray was stabilized by emergency workers and taken by ambulance to Harborview.

While all this was going on, customers were ushered out of the store. For about 20 minutes no coffee was being served inside, but walk-up service continued outside, Farrell noted.

Gray was listed in satisfactory condition Tuesday afternoon, said Harborview spokeswoman Susan Gregg.

Seattle Times staff reporter Jack Broom and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @MikeLindblom.

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