Seattle bus crash victims identified, Indonesian student among them

Tian Yuxuan, 18, of Beijing, who decided not to ride a tour bus that crashed, reacts as he speaks to reporters at North Seattle College.
Tian Yuxuan, 18, of Beijing, who decided not to ride a tour bus that crashed, reacts as he speaks to reporters at North Seattle College.AFP

SEATTLE (AFP) - Investigators on Friday combed through the wreckage of two buses that crashed in Seattle, as authorities released the names of the four foreign students who died in the accident.

Among the fatalities was a 49-year-old Austrian woman, Claudia Derschmidt, who had just arrived in the West Coast state of Washington with her 15-year-old son to pursue her studies at North Seattle College.

The other victims from Thursday's crash were identified as 18-year-old Privaudo Putradauto of Indonesia, Mami Sato, 37, from Japan and a 17-year-old Chinese student whose name was not released because she is a minor.

"Last night, (we) met with one of the mothers and had to share with her that her son had passed away," Seattle mayor Ed Murray told reporters.

The victims were among 45 international students and staff from the college who were heading to visit a baseball field and an open-air market when their bus crashed with a "Ride the Ducks" vehicle.

The force of the crash, which happened on a busy bridge, tore off the left side of the bus.

Authorities said 51 people were injured, and one remained in critical condition on Friday.

Eleven others are in intensive care, said Leila Gray, a spokeswoman at Harborview Medical Centre, where the most seriously injured were transported.

Witnesses said the Duck boat - an amphibious vehicle used for tours in many US cities - appeared to have a problem with its front left tire as it swerved and hit an SUV before smashing into the school bus coming the opposite way.

The Duck name is derived from DUKW, the six-wheel amphibious vehicles used by the US army in World War II.

Murray said families of the victims were travelling from overseas to Seattle where there has been an outpouring of sympathy from the community.

He added that the company that operates the "Ride the Ducks" tours had agreed to pull all its vehicles off the streets for the time being.

"The debris has been cleared but at North Seattle College there (are) still wounds in our hearts and it's going to take a while for our students and employees to get through that," college president Warren Brown said.

The college hosts some 900 international students from 50 countries, and the new term is to begin on Monday.

A team of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in Seattle Friday to conduct a probe into the accident.

NTSB board member Earl Weener said in a tweet that the aim was to understand "not just WHAT happened but WHY so we can recommend changes to prevent similar accidents."