Photo captures touching moment between firefighter, victim in Aurora Bridge crash

SEATTLE -- A local photographer who rushed to the scene of a deadly accident on Seattle’s Aurora Bridge said he was looking for any sign of hope or humanity among the carnage.

Minutes earlier, a “Ride the Ducks” vehicle collided with a tour bus, leaving four people dead and dozens more injured. A fifth person died days later.

Joshua Trujillo, a photographer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, said the gravity of the crash took his breath away.

“As I started to realize – looking mostly through my lens – what I was seeing, my heart just sunk. It was an awful feeling,” he recalled.

It wasn’t until later, while looking through his photos, that Trujillo spotted an image that struck him.

The photo captured a touching moment between an unidentified Seattle firefighter and a severely injured young woman.

Trujillo later wrote about the image. He wrote about the care and concern he saw on the faces of first responders. He wrote about the gentle way in which the firefighter carried the young woman, who looked to be in her late teens. He wrote about the way she draped her arms over his shoulders.

“Like I wrote, you know, there was no beauty in this scene whatsoever. There was very little hope,” he said. “But for me, that one simple moment really did speak volumes to me.”

It was one of many touching moments that unfolded in the minutes, hours, and days after the horrific accident, which claimed the lives of five international students from North Seattle College.

People flooded local blood banks, waiting for hours to donate. Canlis, a high-end Seattle restaurant near the crash scene, closed its doors for the first time in decades to feed first responders. Airlines offered free flights to the families of the victims. Hotels offered free accommodations.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray explained it in this way:

“Yesterday was maybe one of the most difficult days to be mayor, but it was also one of the most moving days to be mayor as I watched this city come to action to help people – young people and their families who were in pain.”

Trujillo, who has found himself in the middle of more tragic scenes than he cares to count, said he decided to share the photo to help people see the good in the bad.

“I think in times of tragedy, if you can look for those moments and see those moment and value and appreciate those moments, it means a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to our community.”