FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Serenade of the Seas is back in South Florida. The ship, one of two that carried passengers involved in a deadly bus crash in Mexico, arrived in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale early Friday morning.
“Thank God we’re here,” said John Whitten.
Passengers like the Whitten family disembarked from the ship, very grateful to have made it back alive.
“We didn’t make that bus, we were very lucky,” said Michelle Whitten.
There were just four seats left on the tour bus that crashed. The Whitten family of five was forced to take the next one which later passed by the horrifying scene.
“We saw it on the side of the road and saw all the bodies laying down with blood all over them,” said John Whitten.
Twelve people died in Tuesday’s bus crash in Mexico’s Quintana Roo state, including eight Americans, two Swedes, a Canadian and a Mexican. They were traveling to the Mayan archaeological site of Chacchoben when their bus, carrying 31 people, overturned.
Haim Shababo of Fort Lauderdale said Wednesday that his 78-year-old mother-in-law, Fanya Shamis who lived in Coconut Creek, was among the American bus passengers killed in the crash. She was on vacation with her family. Her daughter Anna Behar from Virginia died as well, along with Behar’s 11-year-old son Daniel. Behar’s husband and 15-year-old son were injured.
“We saw very dark skid marks going straight and skid marks off to the left and then a trail of broken glass,” said passenger Nicole Hallingstad.
Mexican prosecutors say those skid marks on the narrow two lane highway indicated the driver was speeding.
Many passengers recounted their own near miss from getting onboard the same bus; others described the disbelief and sadness that sailed with them for the remainder of the trip.
“It was very solemn, as soon as the other passengers heard that an accident happened and even the crew members were quite upset about it,” said passenger Theresa Henderson.
Other passengers on the bus were from the Royal Caribbean owned ship, Celebrity Equinox.
It arrives back in Port Miami on Saturday morning.
“Our hearts go out to all those involved in the bus accident in Costa Maya. We are doing all we can to care for our guests, including assisting with medical care and transportation,” spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said. “We are working with the local authorities to learn more about the accident.”