On Friday, Nov. 23, King County Metro and Metro-operated Sound Transit buses paused their bus services at 3:20 p.m. Buses across the region pulled over for a few moments of reflection and remembrance to honor the memory of Mark McLaughlin. At the age of 44, McLaughlin lost his life in the line of duty on Nov. 27, 1998.
Twenty years ago, a passenger riding the bus on Nov. 27, 1998, shot McLaughlin as he was driving the route 359 bus across the Aurora Avenue Bridge. The bus drove off the bridge and onto the roof of a Fremont apartment building. One other passenger died and 37 others were hurt in the crash.
In a press release, King County Metro general manager Rob Gannon said they will always remember McLaughlin’s commitment to public service and the tragedy of how he was taken.
“We’re honoring his memory and reflecting on his life and the challenging work our operators engage in each and every day to carry the public safety to their destinations,” he said. “Together, the Metro family of 5,000 employees invites everyone to join us as we briefly pull our buses to the curb for a solemn moment of remembrance.”
McLaughlin joined Metro in 1979 and was a transit operator for 19 years. According to the release, coworkers called him a “simple, humble man, a gentle giant.” He was known for handing out bubblegum to his passengers.
“The loss of our brother Mark is still hard to accept, even 20 years later,” said president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 Ken Price in a statement. Price said he has a portrait of McLaughlin hanging in his office as a daily reminder to never back away from their efforts to keep bus operators safe.