Metro driver protected passengers as he died, rider says

Sam Williams' fatal heart attack occurred Thursday night as he was driving his Metro bus on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- Sam Williams had one more act in him.

The 63-year-old Seattle Metro Transit Bus Driver spent 20 years as a performer with the Flying Karamazov Brothers, a traveling theater troupe that still performs today, though now with a new generation of entertainers.

Thursday night, Williams was driving his RapidRide C route on the Alaskan Way Viaduct when he had a heart attack and died. But in his last few moments, the humorist did something serious.

Some riders say Williams slowed the bus and maintained control as he signaled to passengers that he was having a heart attack. They acted quickly and took the wheel, bringing the bus to safety as Williams died.

“It’s a miracle Sam had the clarity of mind, even while going through a crisis, to slow us down and maintain control of the bus before losing consciousness,” rider Lisa Plummer said. “If anything had gone differently, we could have gone through the guardrail and down off of the viaduct. A lot of us would be dead or seriously injured.”

Williams’ actions were no surprise to Paul Magid, co-founder of the Flying Karamazov Brothers.

“Sam was a hero right up until the end,” he said. “I’m proud of him. It just makes me love him more.”

Williams went by the name Smerdyakov Karamazov with the Flying Karamazov Brothers.

“He was the funny one,” Magid said. “People just loved him, when he came on stage people loved it right away.”

Williams left the Flying Karamazov Brothers in 2000 to take care of his ill wife. He later became a bus driver with Seattle Metro Transit.

Williams performed on-and-off in his retired life, but was excited to return to the stage with his friend Paul Magid in December for a fundraising event. Magid just put up posters for the event this week.

“I was really looking forward to being with him,” Magid said. “I really wish he hadn’t passed away so young.”

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