Lost ladder blamed for football team bus crash

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by By CHRIS DANIELS and TONYA MOSLEY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ChrisDaniels5

KING5.com

Posted on November 28, 2008 at 5:11 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 23 at 12:21 PM

Video: Bus carrying football team overturns on I-5

SEATTLE - The state patrol is looking for a driver who caused a charter bus loaded with Bellevue High School football players to overturn on Interstate 5 in Tukwila Friday morning.

The team was on its way to a playoff game. The accident has now caused several games to be rescheduled.

Eight people were injured when the bus carrying starters for the Bellevue team flipped over. Troopers say an unsecured ladder caused the crash.

Video

"It looked like a ladder went fell out of someone's vehicle in front of us," said Bellevue assistant coach Pat Jones.

The driver of the bus carrying 38 people hit the brakes and veered out of control, sending players and the head coach flying.

"When we hit the hill, we flipped over," said Jones.

Three other vehicles were also involved in the crash.

The ladder had the word "forest" written in black sharpie ink.

The owner could face a stiff penalty.

"You're looking at criminal charges. It is negligent to do something like that," said Trooper Cliff Pratt, Washington State Patrol.

Seven people on the bus suffered cuts and bruises and one suffered a mild concussion. Pratt says it helped that the players were wearing their pads.

"We'll get a team ready to play, but it won't be with those guys," said Bellevue head coach Butch Goncharoff.

Another person in a passenger car complained of minor neck and back injuries.

A second bus that was headed to Tacoma made it there just fine. The team was on its way to the Tacoma Dome for a state 3A semi-final game with Capital High School.

"Right now, the game is not even important to us. It's about the Bellevue football team. The Bellevue players and parents. That everybody is healthy and OK," said Coach John Johnson, Capital High School.

That game is now rescheduled for Monday night at 7 p.m. at Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood. Tickets bought for the game at the Tacoma Dome will be honored there.

The 3A final will be rescheduled for Saturday, December 6 at 4 p.m. at the Tacoma Dome.

The 4A final will happen Friday, December 5 at 7:30 p.m.

Under Washington law, a driver who fails to secure a load that causes an injury can be punished by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. The law went into effect after Maria Federici of Renton was blinded in 2004 when a piece of particle board flew off a trailer and crashed through her windshield. Back then, loopholes in the law allowed the driver in that crash to walk away with two traffic tickets totaling $388.

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