Seattle police said it appears the driver suffered some sort of medical emergency and lost control of the van at Fifth Avenue and Pine Street. The driver was among those hospitalized.
A shuttle van jumped the curb on a crowded downtown Seattle street and struck several pedestrians before hitting a building just before noon Thursday. At least six people have been hospitalized, including four pedestrians hit by the van, police said.
Police said it appears the Shuttle Express driver suffered some sort of medical emergency and lost control of the van at Fifth Avenue and Pine Street at 11:55 a.m. Thursday. Police spoke with the driver after the crash, they said.
The driver did not appear to run a red light, police said.
“The van did not accelerate,” said Assistant Police Chief Marc Garth Green, citing video footage of the crash. “There was nothing obvious to make this an intentional or deliberate act; it just idles and then rolls through.”
One victim, a man in his 30s, was in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Two women, ages 28 and 39, and a 52-year-old man were in satisfactory condition, the spokeswoman said.
The conditions and locations of the two other victims were not immediately known.
One witness said it appears two of the pedestrians who were hit were a man and woman walking with a young child. The child was not hit.
John Clarke, who works downtown, said he was walking when he saw the van heading south on Fifth Avenue. He said the vehicle came through the intersection, suddenly swerved and jumped the curb before crashing into the building about 15 feet in front of him.
“It jumped the curb. I yelled,” Clarke said. “It came toward the building and hit the building.”
The van struck the Gap store, shattering glass.
Clarke said he saw the man and woman hit by the van.
“I thought she was dead,” he said.
A Seattle Park Ranger, who declined to give his name because he was not an official spokesman, said he was in Westlake Center when he heard the crash and ran a half a block to the scene. He said a passerby had opened the passenger-side door of the van and was attacking the driver.
“Some guy jumped in the vehicle, was pounding the driver, hitting him,” the park ranger said. “I pulled him off of him. He was yelling, ‘don’t you go any [expletive] where.'”
It wasn’t immediately known whether the man believed the driver had deliberately struck the pedestrians, mimicking terror attacks in other cities.
Green, the assistant police chief, said he could not confirm whether the driver was assaulted after the crash.
“We do know that there are people who ran to the van to offer aid to the people that were down and to check in on the driver as well,” he said. “I don’t know if the driver was assaulted in any way, shape or form.”
In addition to the injured pedestrians, the van driver and a person struck by glass from the Gap store were taken to hospitals, Green said. Green said toxicology tests would be administered to the driver.
A passenger in the Shuttle Express van was not injured, he said.
A spokesman for Shuttle Express did not immediately return a call for comment.
The van threaded a narrow gap of 10 to 15 feet between the Pine Street side of The Gap building and a light post on the corner, before striking the building on Fifth Avenue. Clothes, a backpack, a shoe and a phone littered the sidewalk, interspersed with broken glass, in front of the van after victims were taken to the hospital.
Fifth Avenue, between Olive and Pike streets, was closed for the investigation until about 2:30 p.m.