One the most familiar sites at big city airports, like those here in Washington, is the number of shuttle buses carrying airline passengers to or from the airport. How safe are the passengers on the shuttle buses? Are seat belts available? Can these vehicles withstand the impact of a standard sedan? The recent collision of an automobile and a shuttle bus near the Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle is providing uncertain answers to some of these questions.

A shuttle van from the Seattle Airport Marriott was headed north on International Boulevard at about 1:00 p.m. on July 25. A car heading south in the opposite lane crossed the median and hit the shuttle bus. The force of the impact tipped the van on its side. The van was carrying nine persons, but police were unable to determine how many, if any, were using the available seat belts.

One man was partially thrown from the van, and police found his body under the rear passenger side of the van. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The exact condition of the other passengers and the driver were not clear. The driver of the car and a van passenger were treated and released at a nearby hospital. Two others were hospitalized in a facility that did not provide an information on their conditions. Another passenger suffered injuries to her head and to her hand.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation. Police are not certain about the cause of the automobile’s sudden change of lanes or why the driver was unable to stop the car before the accident occurred.

As is almost always the case in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, the identities of the parties can be difficult to untangle. The bus is probably owned by a company other than Marriott, and the driver may be an employee of a third entity. Alcohol or drugs may have impaired the driver of the sedan, although police have given no information on this point. Anyone who has suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a similar accident may wish to contact an experienced personal injury attorney for an evaluation of the evidence and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages.