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Metro driver suffers fatal heart attack; riders help guide bus to a safe stop

Summary

A Metro Transit operator suffered a fatal heart attack late Thursday while driving a RapidRide C Line on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, just south of Columbia Street. Passengers on board were able to help bring the bus to a safe stop and call 9-1-1. No passengers were injured.

Story

A Metro Transit operator suffered a fatal heart attack late Thursday while driving a RapidRide C Line on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, just south of Columbia Street. Passengers on board were able to help bring the bus to a safe stop and call 9-1-1. No passengers were injured.

The incident was reported about 11:17 p.m. The driver, Sam Williams, 63, was traveling south when he said he was experiencing a heart attack and became semiconscious. Passengers noticed the bus swerving at slow speeds and quickly rushed to Williams’ aid. One passenger was able to help bring the bus to a stop in the outside lane – about six inches from the viaduct’s guardrail. Other passengers helped unbuckle the driver and remove him from his seat, and began performing CPR. A retired Auburn police officer who was driving behind the bus stopped his vehicle and helped provide aid until first responders arrived.

Williams was pronounced deceased after being transported to Harborview Medical Center. 

“Those who ride Metro Transit know there is a sense of community on the bus, between passengers and drivers,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “When an incident occurs, people step up to help one another. The passengers on Sam Williams’ route exemplify the best of who we are as a region.”

“Our drivers care deeply about their passengers' safety and comfort. We are grateful to the passengers who rushed to help Sam as soon as it was clear that he needed medical help. Sam will be missed by his friends, family, coworkers, and those who rode on his bus each day.”

“Many of us are grieving today over the loss of Sam Williams, a dedicated Metro operator for the last six years,” said Metro General Manager Rob Gannon. “I thank the passengers whose quick action to safely stop the bus prevented this from becoming an even greater tragedy.”

Williams started as a part-time operator in 2010. He achieved full-time status in 2014.