MIAMI (CBS4) – A third person has died from their injuries after the bus they were riding in slammed into a concrete overhang at Miami International Airport.
Gliceria Emerida Garcia, 75, died Monday at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
In addition to the three people killed, 12 others were injured in the accident on December 1.
In the wake of the crash, two lawsuits have been filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against the bus driver and bus company involved.
The first suit was filed Thursday by Miriam Lorenza Machado. Machado was seriously injured when the driver carrying 32 mostly elderly Jehovah’s Witnesses to a religious convention in West Palm Beach got lost and ended up in the arrivals area at MIA. .
Stephen F. Rossman, founding partner of Rossman, Baumberger, Reboso, Spier & Connolly, filed suit late Thursday on behalf of Miriam Lorenza Machado in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against the owners of the bus, Miami Bus Service Corp. and Miami Bus Service II Corp., and the bus driver, Ramon Ferreiro.
Rossman calls this situation “tragic and mind-boggling.”
“This is a clear case of driver inattentiveness. Issues of lack of qualifications, inadequacy of training and insufficient trip planning are common errors we see in these large commercial vehicle crashes.”
Machado is a retired widow who lives alone.
Family members said she has been in critical condition, having sustained serious injuries to her face, ribs, spine and spleen. She required life-saving surgery to control internal bleeding.
Members of her family said she had exercised daily and was in good condition prior to the crash.
The company and Ferriero also face a wrongful death suit was filed Friday by the family of Francisco Urena. Urena was among the passengers killed.
According to the complaint, Ferreiro negligently drove the bus on the wrong route at an unsafe speed at the time and place of the accident.
“As a bus driver, Ferreiro owed a duty to all of the passengers of the bus to exercise reasonable care,” said Lewis S. “Mike” Eidson, counsel for Urena’s family. “Bus drivers must be alert at all times and fully aware of their limitations and capacity of the vehicle they are operating. It is shocking that the driver could have collided with a clearly-marked concrete overpass in broad daylight, with multiple signs warning high vehicles away from the area. Bus companies must do more to ensure that their drivers are properly trained and understand traffic signs to prevent such avoidable accidents. Urena was a dedicated father and husband and this is an outrageous tragedy of immense proportions and should never happen again.”
The 11-foot tall bus smashed into an 8-foot-six-inch clearance, shearing off the first 16 feet of the bus, smashing in the roof, hurtling passengers and sending twisted metal and shards of shattered fiberglass within the bus and through a wide surrounding area.
Two large signs warn drivers of large vehicles not to enter beneath the concrete overpass.
One sign, at top-left, is attached to the top of the concrete barrier and reads: “High Vehicle STOP Turn Left.”
The other, placed to the left of the driveway several feet in front of the barrier, says all vehicles higher than the 8-foot-6 threshold must turn left.
Like most buses commonly used for charters and tours, the driver sits low to the ground. It’s no surprise then that Ferreiro, who was below the passenger deck, was sustained only minor injuries.
The passengers, however, sit in an elevated area behind the driver’s seat. Machado was in the third row.
A relative of Ferreiro sent out a short statement on his behalf last week. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reports that, in the statement, Ferreiro extended his “deepest sympathy” to the families of those killed in “the terrible accident.”
“I know there are no words of comfort for what happened, but my family and I are praying for all those affected and their loved ones,” he wrote in Spanish. “I’m emotionally and physically very shocked by what happened…”