SEATTLE -- The last major tragedy on Seattle's Aurora Bridge happened nearly 20 years ago when a bus passenger shot and killed the driver, sending the bus over the north side of the bridge.
The bus driver was hit twice before the shooter turned the gun on himself. Three people were killed and 36 injured on the afternoon of November 27, 1998.
King County Metro officials said the shooter was sitting in the first seat by the front door. They said the shooting was unprovoked.
According to the Seattle Times, the bus went across oncoming traffic before leaving the bridge and landing on the roof of an apartment building on North 36th Street, about 50 feet below the bridge deck. The 60-foot accordion-style bus then fell backwards two more stories, splitting in half and crashing to the ground below. Several passengers were thrown from the bus during the fall.
"It was kind of like a roller coaster," Laethan Wene, who was on the bus, told the Times. "I was seeing glass fly all over the place, and the bus driver had the emergency doors open."
"I saw a wave of concrete, it looked like water pouring down. And then the bus," a woman who was looking out her kitchen window told the newspaper. "Another hundred yards and we would have been toast."
The Times reported a white paper tear was placed on the statue of the nearby Fremont Troll following the tragedy. Flowers were left in the statue's arms.
Metro later retired Route 359 and replaced it with 358. It has since been replaced with the RapidRide E Line.
Bridge repairs cost an estimated $18,000 while medical claims against King County amounted to $2.3 million, according to the paper.
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