Throwback Thursday: Seattle Monorail Crash

I was sitting on the monorail 30 feet in the air, waving at the passengers in the "red" monorail as it was passing us when all of a sudden there was a crash. A long screeching sound followed by the lights flickering. I slowly start to feel our car tip, and I thought I was finished.

I was in the 5th grade, spending the night in Seattle with my best friend Megan and our families. We went every year to Seattle with Megan's family to run the kids fun run (only 1 mile) and then the next day was the half marathon that my mom and Megan's mom, Michelle always did. It was November 26th, 2005, just a few days after Thanksgiving. We had  just eaten dinner in Seattle and we were heading to the Westlake Center Mall to do some shopping. There was a monorail that went directly to the mall, and our families decided we'd take that over.  We almost missed the monorail. We were walking up right as it was getting ready to pull out of the station, we ran and got on just as the doors were closing. 

It was dark outside and I remember vividly passing the other train. I was on the blue train and there was also a red train. When they built the monorail in 1962, they built the tracks far enough apart so that the two trains could pass each other without any problems. However, when they built the Westlake center in the 1980's, the engineers put the tracks closer together in one spot. There was only one spot on the entire track that the two trains couldn't pass. The drivers of the two trains were supposed to call each other to let them know that they were coming. For whatever reason, that evening, our driver failed to do that.

If you look closely at the picture, you can tell that the blue car is tilted.

We were innocently waving at the passengers in the other car, when we felt the big crash. It all happened so fast. One minute we were just waving, excited about the holiday season, and the next, our train was tipping. I think everyone in that blue train thought we were going to be rolling off of the tracks to our death 30 feet below. To our amazement, the train tilted but just stopped right there. We all sat in shock for a few seconds before people started panicking. Megan's dad, Mark called 911 and reported the incident. Outside our window we could see all of the people in the mall taking pictures of us. We were just stuck, 30 feet in the air, anxiously waiting for firefighters to come to the rescue. It felt like we waited for an eternity for the fire truck to show up. I remember sitting, hugging Megan while singing Christmas songs to try and make us feel better. We were terrified.

When the fire department finally came, one by one they had us go down the fire ladder. I remember them telling us that if we got scared, to just lay down and they would put a harness on us and carry us down the ladder. The scariest part for me was making that walk down the ladder. You could see straight down to the ground, and I was convinced if I let go, I would slip between the rails of the ladder. I had one firefighter walking behind me and one ahead of me as we slowly inched down, rail by rail. 

I was relieved when I finally landed on top of the fire truck, and then made it to the ground. We went over and got checked out by the ambulance, and once we were released to go, there were a fair amount of reporters wanting to talk to us. Megan and I both were on the radio multiple times giving our statements about what happened. It was such a terrifying experience. Still to this day, going on a monorail gives me the chills and even sometimes elevators make me anxious.

I am so thankful for the firefighters that came that day to rescue us and for not having to go through something like that alone. This experience made me realize that life is too short to be taken for granted. Live it up while you have the chance! 
Sorry about the low quality pictures. I didn't have any of my own so I had to get some off the internet :) 


  1. Wow, what a scary experience! I'm glad you made it out of it okay. Thanks for sharing your story

  2. Oh my - so scary!! I can't even imagine!

  3. Wow! That's so scary! Glad you were okay!