The information in this report is preliminary and will be supplemented or corrected during the course of the investigation.
About 1:00 p.m. Pacific daylight time on Thursday, July 25, 2019, a 2019 Ford 350 HD Transit shuttle bus configured with a 14-passenger World Trans medium-size shuttle bus body was traveling north in the left lane of International Boulevard, north of the intersection of 176th Street, in SeaTac, King County, Washington. The shuttle bus was operated by Town Park LLC and was being used to transport passengers between Seattle–Tacoma International Airport and a nearby hotel. The shuttle bus was occupied by a 39-year-old male driver and eight passengers. At the same time, a 2001 BMW 325i four-door passenger car, operated by a 45-year-old female driver, was traveling south in the left lane of International Boulevard, approaching the shuttle bus.
At this location, International Boulevard has two northbound travel lanes and three southbound travel lanes, divided by a raised center median (figure 1). In addition to the through travel lanes, both directions of the road include dedicated left- and right-turn lanes for traffic turning onto 176th Street. The posted speed limit is 40 mph. At the time of the crash, the weather was reported as dry and clear.
Figure 1. View north on International Boulevard showing both vehicles in their final rest positions.
(Source: Erika Schultz/Seattle Times)
As it approached the shuttle bus, the car veered to the left, crossing the left-turn lane and center median and entering the northbound left travel lane, where it collided with the left side of the shuttle bus, just behind the driver’s door. The car continued back onto the bus’s left rear wheels. As a result of the impact, the bus rotated counter-clockwise and rolled 90 degrees to the right. The shuttle bus came to rest facing northwest, with the front on the center median and the passenger side on the pavement. (Figure 2 is another view of both vehicles at final rest and the surroundings.)
Figure 2. View south-southeast on International Boulevard showing both vehicles at their final rest position; traffic signal farther south is at 176th Street. (Source: King County Sheriff’s Office)
The shuttle bus was equipped with lap belts in all 14 passenger seat positions, but none of the passengers were wearing them. The bus driver and car driver were both wearing the available lap/shoulder belts. A 45-year-old male passenger on the shuttle bus was partially ejected in the crash and fatally injured. Both vehicle drivers and the seven remaining bus passengers received injuries ranging from minor to serious.
Town Park LLC, which operated the shuttle bus, is based in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Although the bus driver held a commercial driver’s license, one was not required to operate the vehicle. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is examining the exemptions and oversight requirements for passenger-carrying vehicles being operated as private passenger transportation in a commercial zone. The King County Sheriff’s Office has requested cell phone records for both drivers to determine whether distraction played a role in the crash.
All aspects of the SeaTac, Washington, crash remain under investigation as the NTSB focuses on determining the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes. The NTSB is working alongside the King County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which are conducting their own separate investigations.
1. Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations requires a commercial driver’s license to operate a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver). The crash bus seated 14 passengers plus the driver, for a total of 15.