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State Patrol says nothing wrong with Sound Transit bus that killed two in Kirkland crash

Despite a driver’s claims of brake failure, the State Patrol says inspections found no problems with the Sound Transit bus that crashed into an SUV in Kirkland last month, killing two people.

“The investigation at this point showed that there’s no mechanical issues with the bus,” said Lt. Shane Nelson with the WSP’s major accident investigation team.

The bus driver, Aleksandr Rukhlin, 54, of Everett, told investigators the brakes failed before he ran a red light at the Totem Lake Transit Center off-ramp along I-405 and plowed into a Ford Escape on May 6. The bus traveled another half-mile down the freeway on-ramp before coming to a stop.

The crash killed Robert Rotta, 76, and his wife Elizabeth, 75, of Bellevue. Their 51-year-old son Kendall Rotta was seriously injured in the crash.

Despite the preliminary finding, the investigation is far from complete and it will be months before any decision is made on any possible charges or citations for the driver.

“They still have to do a complete reconstruction of the situation and the incident and that’s not done yet,” he said.

Rukhlin passed a toxicology test and the signals and roadway were determined to be in good condition, Nelson said.

Sound Transit previously reported the bus involved in the deadly crash passed a routine safety inspection one week before the accident. A driver had complained the bus pulled to the right when the brakes were applied.

Rukhlin remains on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

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