Two people were killed and three others are in critical condition after a bus carrying more than 30 passengers slammed into a concrete overpass at Miami International Airport.
The accident, which took place early Saturday morning, left the front of the vehicle completely crushed and most of its top sheered off. The bus was traveling about 20 mph when it hit the overpass.
One of the victims, who was sitting towards the front of the bus, was killed instantly, and the second died at the hospital. All of the other passengers suffered from some sort of injuries, with about half being rushed off to the hospital.
According to authorities, the crash occurred at approximately 8 a.m., when the tour bus slammed into the 8-foot-6 overhang. It appeared as though the bus driver had made a wrong turn at some point, as taller vehicles are supposed to go through the departures area, which has a higher ceiling.
Miami-Dade police Lt. Rosanna Cordero-Stutz said the driver was unfamiliar with the area.
More than a dozen firetrucks and six ambulances responded to the devastating crash. The area was immediately cordoned off by emergency personnel, as rescue workers attempted to access the passengers left trapped inside.
Because the damage to the front of the bus was so extensive, police were forced to use the Jaws of Life to cut a hole through side to gain entry into the vehicle.
Osvaldo Lopez, an officer with Miami-Dade aviation, was one of the people assisting rescue workers. He said that after hearing the loud noise, he became certain that it was some sort of car wreck and rushed over.
He said that once inside the bus, he found several passengers thrown into the center aisle. He added the passengers, many of whom were elderly, remained calm after the wreck.
‘It was just very bloody,’ he said of the scene.
According to public records, the bus belongs to Miami Bus Service Corporation. The Miami Herald reported that the company has no unsafe driving or controlled substance violations based on a 24-month record ending on Oct. 26.
The company did, however, score a 92.2 per cent in the fatigued driving category. This means that either the drivers were cited for one or more serious violations of the past year, or that the company didn’t meet federal requirements.
It is unclear what condition the driver was in at the time of the accident. He was unharmed and taken in to be interviewed by police following the incident.
‘It’s clear that the driver was not familiar with the airport,’ tour guide Hernan Garcia told the Herald. ‘There are designated routes for these type of buses and it is prohibited to speed in this area.’