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Washington State Patrol completes double fatality investigation into 2013 bus crash in Kirkland

This was the scene on an overpass in the Totem Lake neighborhood of Kirkland on May 6, 2013, after a Sound Transit bus crashed into this SUV. The crash killed Robert Rotta and Elizabeth Rotta of Bellevue.  - Reporter file photo
This was the scene on an overpass in the Totem Lake neighborhood of Kirkland on May 6, 2013, after a Sound Transit bus crashed into this SUV. The crash killed Robert Rotta and Elizabeth Rotta of Bellevue.
— image credit: Reporter file photo

This is a release from the Washington State Patrol:

Washington State Patrol detectives have concluded that a Sound Transit bus driver who failed to stop for a red light triggered a May 6, 2013, collision that killed two people in Kirkland.

Driver Aleksandr Rukhlin was northbound I-405 exiting the transit ramp to NE 128th Street with 25 passengers aboard. Washington State Patrol’s Major Accident Investigation Team's investigation revealed Rukhlin slowed from the highway speed of 60 mph to approximately 45 mph as the bus exited the highway. Rukhlin did not noticeably slow down as he traveled up the exit ramp before entering the intersection and striking an SUV at approximately 45 mph.

Passengers on the bus reported yelling at the driver to stop the bus, but Rukhlin continued through the collision and back onto northbound I-405. The bus traveled nearly three-quarters of a mile before passengers were able to intervene and assist in getting the bus stopped. It took one minute and 13 seconds for the bus to come to a complete stop after the collision occurred.

Despite his failure to immediately stop and render assistance, Rukhlin was otherwise cooperative throughout the investigation and agreed to perform a voluntary drug influence evaluation, as well as a subsequent voluntary blood test. Both the evaluation and blood test results were negative for any signs of drug or alcohol impairment.

The driver of the SUV, Kendall Rotta, was accelerating on 128th Street as his traffic light was green. Rotta reached a speed of 23 mph before being struck by the bus. Rotta suffered a concussion and a fractured rib as a result of the collision. The other two passengers in Rotta’s vehicle, his parents Robert Rotta and Elizabeth Rotta, were killed as a result of blunt force trauma.

Detectives determined that neither vehicle, nor environmental factors, contributed to the cause of the crash. Major Accident Investigation Team has asked the King County Prosecutor to consider charging Rukhlin with two counts of vehicular homicide, one count of vehicular assault and one count of hit and run with death.

In this, as in all cases, the prosecutor will make a final determination on what, if any charges will be filed.

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