MIAMI (CBS4) – The parking lot at the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall in Sweetwater has plenty of cars, but no one was there.
The vehicles could belong to some of the people injured when a charter bus crashed into an overpass at Miami International Airport on Saturday. More than 30 church members were taken to area hospitals, nearly half were sent to Jackson Memorial Hospital. As of Sunday afternoon, two of the survivors were in critical condition, eight others were listed as stable and four had been released.
“I just came to visit some of the brothers and sisters that are here, show some support,” said Kyria Gallardo at Jackson Memorial.
Gallardo doesn’t belong to the Sweetwater congregation, but she and several others went to the hospital to do what they could.
“I felt so sad, because they are our brothers and sisters and we are like family for all the country, all the nation, all the world, we are family,” said Gallardo.
“It comes from our heart,” said Johnny Garcia who also came to visit. “We wanted to say ‘Hi’ and see how they are doing. They’re like brothers and sisters to us. Even though we don’t know them, we wanted to have the courtesy to visit them and see if they are ok.”
Garcia said when he first saw the news of what happened he was stunned, especially after seeing the video of the bus smashed under that airport overpass, knowing that people died.
“We were all shocked, shocked because it (the warning clearance sign) said 8-foot 6. I don’t know how the driver crashed; we were all shocked when we heard the news,” said Garcia.
Garcia and the others are hoping their thoughts and prayers will bring some comfort to those recovering.
“They are like hanging in there,” said Gallardo, “Wating for them to be better and hope they are better.”
CBS4 learned that elders from the Sweetwater congregation spent the day at the hospital talking with the injured and praying with them.
The accident happened after 7 a.m. Saturday when the driver of the high occupancy charter bus, operated by Miami Bus Service, tried to enter through the arrivals area of the airport, authorities explained. A bright yellow sign on the overpass said “High Vehicles Stop Turn Left.”
The driver didn’t turn and slammed into the overpass. Two men, Serafin Castillo, 86, and Fransico Urana, 56, died in the crash. The other occupants of the bus were taken to hospitals. The group on the bus was traveling from Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sweetwater traveling to West Palm Beach for a religious conference.
The driver, Ramon Ferreiro, suffered minor injuries but was not transported to the hospital.
It’s not clear why he ended up at the airport or why he thought the bus could clear the overpass.