Thread: Club 27
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Old 18-11-2014, 08:07 PM   #367
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The Aurora Bridge Bus Shooting
On November 27, 1998, Metro bus driver Mark McLaughlin and 34 passengers were cruising south down Aurora Avenue on an express route to downtown Seattle. They were coming from the Aurora Village shopping complex at N. 200th Street.

Looking South on Aurora Bridge
As Mark approached the Aurora Bridge, (aka Suicide Bridge) which crosses the Lake Union Ship Canal between the Fremont neighborhood and the north slope of Queen Anne hill, his accordion bus was reaching 50 miles per hour. It was mid afternoon on the day after Thanksgiving. For reasons still unknown to this day, 43 year-old Silas Cool, (He wasn't) a New Jersey native, approached Mark and pulled out a .380 handgun.
Point of impact and damage

He shot him in the abdomen and then shot himself in the head. The bus crossed two lanes of oncoming traffic, hit a van, and plunged 50 feet off the east side of the bridge. It fell onto an apartment building on 36th Street, kitty corner from the world famous Fremont Troll.

905 36th Street
(I walked past that building every day when I worked in Fremont and had no idea it was the building hit) It’s believed that once 44 year-old Mark lost control, he intentionally swerved the bus hard left, to avoid falling 167 feet into Lake Union. Had the bus fallen off the bridge not even 100 more yards south, everyone would have died. Only one other passenger was killed, 69 year-old Herman Liebelt. All of the 32 other passengers were injured, some permanently disabled. One of them lost an arm and a leg. Another, who was only 43, now lives in a group home and requires a caregiver.

The Fremont Troll
It was later learned that Un-Cool had been a petty thief, a Peeping Tom, part-time vagrant who ate at local missions, and an unemployed emotional wreck who wore sunglasses at night. (Corey Hart would be appalled) He lived in a run-down apartment which his parents in Jersey paid for and he slept on an air mattress. Just weeks before the shooting, he showed a handgun to a passenger on another bus and said he was getting a second gun to deal with the "mean people" who ride and drive buses.

Memorial procession down 4th Ave.
On December 8th, bus service was halted for four hours. A memorial service began with a procession of 80 buses and other Metro vehicles through downtown Seattle to Key Arena. They came from all over western Washington. A Metro wrecker led the way with a black wreath on the front. It was a very emotional sight. Those processions make me bawl every time. Fellow Metro drivers had cleaned, repaired and decorated Mark’s bus and it was taken to Key Arena.

Memorial plaque on bridge
His picture and jacket were placed on the driver's seat and purple ribbons were placed on 32 of the passenger seats. A black ribbon was placed on a seat for Norman Liebelt. Nothing was done for Un-Cool. The ceremony ended with a dispatcher's unanswered radio call for driver 2106. There is a memorial plaque on the bridge for Mark and the other passengers.
Mark McLaughlin

'Gentle Giant' remembered 11 years after horrific bus accident

KING Staff, 3:58 p.m. PST November 27, 2009

SHORELINE, Wash.-It's been 11 years since Metro bus driver Mark McLaughlin was shot and killed by a mentally ill man. On November 27, 1998, Mclaughlin was driving along the Aurora Bridge in Seattle when a passenger shot and killed him and then took his own life.

The accident sent the bus plunging off the bridge and into an apartment complex.

Today at McLaughlin's grave, friends and co-workers gathered to celebrate his life. Friend Parul Bachtel says the tragedy has brought drivers closer as they work together to improve security for all transit employees.

There is a kinship amongst those that work here. Not just because of Mark's murder but the number of people who suffered assaults. That builds a strength amongst employees, he said.

Since the shooting Metro has hired a full-time police force. They have also added security cameras to the buses. Janis Fisher drives the same route along Aurora as McLaughlin. She remembers her former co-worker as a gentle giant.

Today friends placed a wreath along the railing at the accident site. It's a visual for bus drivers to remember McLaughlin. Fisher says driving by the accident site has been stressful. It's an event she can't put out of her mind especially around this time of year.

I do think about it every Thanksgiving. I can't believe it's 11 years already, she said. I am sure Mark is smiling on us.

The transit union says it will continue to place wreaths at the accident site and will work to improve the security on buses. Transit Union President and friend Bachtel says Mark would want it that way.
More Stories

Death toll rises to 3 in bizarre Seattle bus crash
crowd watching bus
Motive for shooting puzzles investigators
November 28, 1998
Web posted at: 9:06 p.m. EST (0206 GMT)

SEATTLE (CNN) -- The death toll has risen to three in Friday's bizarre crash of a commuter bus that plunged off a busy Seattle bridge after the driver was shot.

William Liebelt, 69, a passenger on the bus, died Saturday morning. The driver, Mark McLaughlin, 44, was thrown from the bus and killed.

The third victim, whom police have yet to identify, died Friday night from a gunshot wound to the head.

Seattle police spokeswoman Christie-Lynne Bonner said a description, given by other bus passengers, of the man who allegedly shot McLaughlin -- a white male in his 40s, 6 feet 2 inches tall, about 190 or 200 pounds -- fits the third victim.

But she said police have not yet determined if that man shot McLaughlin.

A handgun was found on the man, but Bonner said it had not been fired. Another handgun was recovered at the accident site, she said.

19 people hospitalized

On Saturday, investigators completed their search of the wreckage. Nineteen people remained at various Seattle hospitals.

Police remain puzzled as to a possible motive. According to passengers, the gunman didn't say a word before standing up and shooting the driver.

The bus, with at least 35 people on board, plunged off the Aurora Bridge about 3:20 p.m. (6:20 p.m. EST) Friday. It was what is called an articulated bus, made up of two bus carriers connected in the middle with accordion-like flexibility to make turns.

The bus fell 50 feet, struck the roof of an apartment building in the city's popular Fremont neighborhood and came to rest upright, split in two.

"I was just standing outside because it was such a beautiful day," said witness Sara Krause. "We just looked up and heard a big bang ... There was this concrete falling everywhere, and I thought, 'I'm going to die. I'm 20 years old, and I'm going to die.'"
A view from Aurora Bridge

Laethan Wene, a passenger on the bus, said he heard two "popping noises" before the bus went out of control.

"I was looking out the door and stuff, and I thought, 'My God, it's going to be like an airplane crash,'" he said.

Saturday, the head of the union representing Seattle bus drivers, Barry Samet, called for a meeting with transit system officials to discuss safety. Some drivers said the route over the Aurora Bridge had a rough reputation and that attacks on drivers were not uncommon.

"We are fed up with the increasing assaults drivers and passengers have to suffer," Samet said. "We must attack this problem aggressively and do whatever it takes to make the buses safe for everyone on board."
There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing secret that will not become known and come to light. Luke 8:17
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