Skagway mayor and her mother die after hit by DC tour bus

Skagway mayor Monica Carlson. (Photo by Emily Files, KHNS – Haines)

State flags will fly at half-staff New Year’s Day for Skagway Mayor Monica Carlson, 61. The mayor and her mother were struck by a bus in a crosswalk in Washington, D.C. Wednesday night.

Carlson and 85-year-old Cora Louise Adams were sightseeing in Washington and staying in a downtown hotel. They toured the White House on Wednesday. That night, shortly after 9:30, they crossed Pennsylvania Avenue at 7th Street NW. That’s just north of the National Mall, about halfway between the White House and the Capitol. Police say a tour bus turning onto Pennsylvania hit them. The weather was good and the intersection is well lit, so the cause of the collision wasn’t immediately clear.

“Eyre Bus, Tour & Travel wishes to express their sorrow and sympathy for the family,” said Melanie Hinton, director of communications for the American Bus Association. She said the bus company is cooperating with the police investigation.

“As for details, there were no passengers on the bus at the time of the accident,” Hinton said, speaking on behalf of the bus company. “The seasoned driver has been with Eyre for 18 years.”

Both Alaska senators say Mayor Carlson did not pay an official visit to their offices this week. A spokesman for Sen. Dan Sullivan says his staffers helped her get a tour of the White House, as they do for other visiting Alaskans who apply in advance.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she met Carlson one busy summer day in Skagway.

“Here she is on a Saturday afternoon, standing up in her office,” Murkowski recalled. “It was one of those conversations where we talked about all the business of the city and the issues and the concerns while she’s juggling multiple balls.”

They bonded over a shared political experience: Carlson pointed out that she was elected as a write-in on the ballot, just as Murkowski was in 2010. Murkowski says she was impressed with Carlson’s dedication.

“Skagway, even as a small town, has some issues that divide them. She was really working very, very hard to knit together the differing views in a small community,” Murkowski said. “Everybody has to live with one another and work with one another. And she just seemed so, so perfectly suited to do just that. So our hearts are very heavy for the people of Skagway.”

Carlson and Adams are the 11th and 12th pedestrian fatalities of the year for Washington, according to an unofficial list compiled by traffic safety advocates.

The Washington Post reports that two women died at the same intersection in 2007. They were also hit by a bus. The driver in that case was convicted of negligent homicide.


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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at