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Victims, witnesses describe horrific crash: ‘All the sudden we were on the ground rolling’

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SEATTLE -- Passengers and witnesses described a horrific scene in the moments during and after Thursday morning's deadly Ride the Ducks crash.

The crash between a duck boat and a North Seattle College charter bus crash killed at least four and left 12 with critical injuries, Seattle fire officials said. The number of critically injured was later adjusted to eight.

A Seattle visitor from Green Bay said one minute she and three friends were riding on the duck taking pictures. The next minute, she said, she was flung from the vehicle, and heard screams and noises coming from all around her.

"It was pretty damn scary," Cathy Strassman said. "All the sudden we were on the ground and I was rolling."

Strassman said three of her group ended up thrown from the duck, an amphibious vehicle that has become synonymous with Seattle tourism.

"I got thrown off," Strassman said. "Three of the group was on the ground, and another was still up (on the duck)."

Below is a Seattle Times video interview with Tim Gesner, 61, of Orlando, who was on the Ride the Ducks tour vehicle that collided with a charter bus on the Aurora Bridge.

A student who was on a charter bus told The Associated Press that she and other students on the bus "didn't see anything" before the two vehicles collided.

Rujia Xie, a 16-year-old from China, says the international students from North Seattle College were on their way to Safeco Field for new-student orientation Thursday when the crash happened.

"We didn't see anything," she said. "Just the sound. The smell of gas."

She says glass fell on their faces, and they jumped from the bus.

Xie was holding an ice bag, which was covering bruises on her face, as she left the North Seattle Community College campus, where the less seriously injured people on the bus were taken.

The college says about 45 students and employees were in the vehicle.

 

A witness to the crash driving behind the duck said he noticed the lumbering vehicle begin to drift before it crossed all five lanes of the bridge and hit the charter bus headed southbound. The duck hit the charter bus at a nearly 90-degree angle, he said.

"You saw (the duck) seem to weave toward the middle lane," the witness said. "He then over-corrected and shot across all five lanes."

The witness said those on the bus were violently thrown, with at least two people flung from the front of the bus and two others crashing through the side.

Many of those on the bus were from North Seattle College's International Program, officials said.  Traffic investigators are working to determine the cause of the crash.

Another witness, registered nurse Jahna Dyer told the The Associated Press on Thursday that some victims were sprawled out on the pavement while others milled about seemingly in shock and falling down.

Dyer says she stabilized the neck of an injured man and helped a woman who had a cut lip and glass in her eye.

Another witness, John Mundell says he was at the south end of the bridge when he heard a screech and twisted metal and saw what appeared to be a few dozen people on the ground.

Mundell says wanted to help the injured but "felt helpless."