Two people have been killed and three others critically injured after a charter bus carrying members of a church group crashed into a concrete overpass at Miami International Airport on Saturday, said officials.
The bus, which was carrying 32 passengers at the time of the accident, was too large for the roof of the arrivals area at the airport, said airport spokesperson Greg Chin. According to Chin, the bus was higher than the eight foot, six inch high ceiling of the arrivals area. Buses are usually directed to the departures area to drop off passengers, as this area has a higher roof height. The bus was travelling at approximately 20 mph when it hit the overpass on Saturday morning, said Chin.
According to a media release issued by the Miami Police Department, the passengers on the bus were a group ofJehovah’s Witnesses that were heading to a conference in West Palm Beach. The church group hired the bus from a charter company in order to carry them from the airport to the convention.
Further reports reveal that the passengers were members of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Sweetwater, Miami.
Shortly after the accident, officials and medical personnel arrived on the scene, where one man who has been identified as 86 year old Serafin Cartillo was declared dead. Another passenger, Francisco Urana, 56, died from his injuries later that day in a local hospital. Both the casualties were local Miami residents.
Three further passengers were seriously injured in the accident. They were transported to local hospitals where they remain in a critical condition, say police authorities. The remaining 27 passengers sustained minor injuries, and were transported to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital to be treated. Three passengers have already been discharged, while 14 others remain in a stable condition in hospital.
According to Detective Alvaro Zabaleta of the Miami-Dade Police Department, most of the injuries sustained were facial fractures caused by the head on impact of the collision.
Mayor of Sweetwater, Manny Marono, has expressed his sadness at the tragic accident and extended his condolences to those affected by the crash.
There are clearly marked signs at the airport warning drivers of large vehicles to avoid passing underneath the concrete overpass. The first sign reads: “High Vehicles STOP. Turn Left”, while the second warns of the maximum height threshold of eight foot, six inches for the arrivals area. The bus driver was unfamiliar with the airport and appeared to have been lost, say authorities.