May 10, 2013 at 1:25 PM
Survivor of bus-SUV crash that killed parents says he’s coping
Ken Rotta, whose parents died when the SUV he was driving was hit by a bus Monday in Kirkland, says reality is just beginning to sink in.
He says he’s been on ”a little bit of a roller coaster” emotionally, and has been viewing the tragedy through faith, that his parents are together in heaven.
“It’s hard to explain, all I can think is it was God’s timing for them to go. I haven’t really gone too far beyond that,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Rotta was driving on the Northeast 128th Street overpass when a Sound Transit bus leaving Interstate 405 apparently went through a red light and struck the SUV’s right side. His parents, Robert Rotta, 76, and Elizabeth Rotta, 75, were killed. Ken Rotta suffered a broken rib in the crash.
The Rottas had just left the Kirkland home of Ken’s brother, Phil and his wife, Laura. They were on the overpass, heading toward a Denny’s restaurant in the Totem Lake shopping area.
“The light was green, I looked over the intersection, it looked fine. I was looking ahead to see how I was going to navigate our turn. Just as I was going through the intersection someone cried, ‘Look Out!’ ” said Ken Rotta.
He says he glanced to the right and saw “that big square” — the front of the bus. After the crash, a bystander gave him a phone to call 911, but he passed out during the call.
There are a few other gaps in his memory of what happened immediately after the impact, he said.
A Washington State Patrol investigation is expected to last two more weeks. The bus driver, Aleksander Rukhlin of Everett, is on paid administrative leave.
Rukhlin told troopers the brakes failed, and the WSP says Rukhlin showed no signs of being impaired. The bus passed a routine safety check a week before. Before the safety check, there had been a complaint that the bus pulled to the right, according to the log of the safety check.
Rotta says he hopes “the bus company and the driver are doing well. I know it’s a terrible emotional toll on these folks.”
A funeral for Rotta’s parents is scheduled for 2 p.m., June 1 at Westminster Chapel in Bellevue, 13646 N.E. 24th St., the family said.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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