MIAMI (CVBS4) – The investigation continues in a deadly charter bus crash at Miami International Airport.
Two passengers died and 30 others were injured.
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.”
Buses typically drive through the open air portion in the departures area, an airport spokesman said.
“Most bus drivers are acutely aware of the clearance of their truck and the height of an underpass,” said Ken Pyatt, Deputy Director of Operations at Miami International Airport. “If they’re not sure, they’re supposed to slow down. Obviously, that didn’t happen in this case.”
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews had to cut through the side of the bus to get to the passengers who desperately needed their help.
“Fire rescue crews had to use the Jaws of Life to cut a huge hole in the side of the bus to access the patients,” Lt. Arnold Piedrahita said. “The front of the bus is so heavily damaged that crews could not get in to the bus.”
The clearance of the overpass is 8 feet 6 inches. The bus, operated by Miami Bus Service, is significantly taller than that.
First responders said some passengers were trapped in their seats, while others were found on the floor of the bus.
Osvaldo Lopez with the Miami-Dade Aviation Department said he heard the crash and jumped into action.
“It was just very bloody,” Lopez said. “Everybody had cuts and scrapes.”
Lopez said most of the passengers remained calm despite their injuries. One woman was carried away from the scene while another woman with blood all over her face was tended to nearby.
“Every person on that bus was transported to the hospital with injuries of some kind,” Lt. Rosana Cordero-Stutz with the Miami-Dade Police Dept. said.
She said one person died on scene and another was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Serafin Castillo, 86, and Fransico Urana, 56, did not survive.
They were among a group from Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sweetwater traveling to West Palm Beach for a religious conference.
“A few of them are badly hurt,” Luis Jimenez told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana when he returned to pick up his car at the hall on Flagler Street.
Jimenez said he was sitting in the back of the bus when it crashed. He suffered a black eye, a bloody lip and a broken finger.
“The driver got lost,” Jimenez said in Spanish.
The driver, Ramon Ferreiro, suffered minor injuries but was not transported to the hospital. The driver’s seat on the bus is lower than the rows behind it.
It’s not clear why he ended up at the airport or why he thought the bus could clear the overpass.
Ferreiro’s boss, Mayling Hernandez, said he called her right after the accident.
“Never have I seen this,” Hernandez, the owner of Miami Bus Service, said. “This is the first accident we’ve been involved in.”
Records show the company has not had any safety violations in the last two years. She said the driver never had any previous issues.
“It’s an accident. We are very concerned about the passengers. Like always. This is a service and we always take care of everybody,” Hernandez said. “I’m asking God that everybody is going to be ok.”
Police questioned the driver.
No charges have been filed.