5th person dies after Thursday's Aurora Bridge crash in Seattle

SEATTLE -- A fifth person has died as a result of a crash between an amphibious Ride the Ducks vehicle and a charter bus Thursday on Seattle's Aurora Bridge.

Officials at Harobrview Medical Center said Sunday that a 20-year-old woman died from injuries sustained in the crash. They identified her as an international student attending North Seattle College, but did not release her name.

The other four victims were previously identified as international students also attending the school.

Among those killed was 49-year-old Claudia Derschmidt, of Austria. She had just enrolled in the college’s international program this year and was a mother to a 15-year-old son who was also on the bus.

Also killed were 18-year-old Privando Putradanto, of Indonesia; 37-year-old Mami Sato, of Japan; and 17-year-old Runjie Song, of China.

Dozens of others were injured in the crash.

On Sunday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's office indicated that the state Utilities and Transportation Commission will seek to suspend operations of the 'Ride the Ducks' fleet until all vehicles can be inspected.

“Safety must be our paramount goal. Last week’s tragedy demands that all precautions and safety measures be taken before the Ducks resume operations. Because of the fleet’s advanced age, extensive use and unique design, requiring additional scrutiny to ensure they are safe is absolutely critical,” said Mayor Murray.

“The UTC committed today to inspecting each of these vehicles and reviewing each driver’s record. The UTC will meet Monday to address its authority to suspend company operations pending completion of those inspections and review,” said Governor Inslee. “I believe that until we can be assured that each of these vehicles and drivers have been inspected they should not be back on Seattle streets. The city, the state and the federal government need to work together closely as multiple investigations move forward.”

Axle 'sheared off'

Federal investigators say the left front axle of a duck boat involved in a deadly Seattle accident was sheared off, but they don't know if it was damaged before the collision with a charter bus that killed four international college students.

National Transportation Safety Board Member Earl Weener said Saturday the axle will be sent to a federal lab for further examination.

Weener said it's too soon to know how the axle was damaged, or if it happened before the collision.

Witnesses have said they saw the duck boat's left tire "lock up" Thursday as it swerved into a charter bus carrying international students over a bridge.

How to make it safer?

State lawmakers are asking transportation officials how to improve safety on the Aurora Bridge.

The Seattle Times reports that Seattle Democratic Rep. Reuven Carlyle said he's drafting a letter from lawmakers calling on the city and state transportation departments to analyze options for making the bridge safer.

The bridge has three lanes in each direction with no median, and it's narrower than any other six-lane highway bridge in the state.

In 2003 the state DOT recommended moving the bridge's sidewalks below the road deck, to allow wider car lanes and a 2-foot-wide median barrier, at a cost of $29 million.

Former Seattle Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson said she believes the reason the work was never done was because of the cost.