Further details of the deadly bus crash at Miami airport that claimed two lives on Saturday have been revealed through the accounts of surviving passengers and emergency rescue officials.
One passenger, a woman who was seated in the second row window seat, had time to save her own life by ducking. The woman told aviation officer Osvaldo Lopez, who was the first responder on the scene, that she saw the 11 foot high bus approach the roof of the eight foot six inch high tunnel and had a second to react by dropping her head into the lap of the woman seated next to her. According to Lopez, if she had remained sitting upright, there would almost certainly have been three casualties rather than two.
Investigators continue to attempt to piece together the moments before and just after the accident, which killed two people and injured more than 30.
In the minutes following the crash, Lopez describes how he saw a middle aged woman seated in the aisle seat in the second row behind the driver. She was having difficulty breathing, and Lopez believed that her back appeared to be broken. Across the aisle from her, a man also seated in the aisle seat appeared to be peacefully sleeping. This man was one of the casualties, Serafin Castillo, who died after his chest was crushed in the accident.
Lopez tried to feel Castillo’s pulse, but soon realised that he was dead. He tried to perform CPR, but the cramped space beneath the wreckage was too small to do so.
The second casualty, Francisco Urena, 57, was trapped underneath the wreckage of the roof and moaning quietly when Lopez arrived on the scene. Urena later died of his injuries in hospital. Many of the other passengers were bleeding and stunned.
It was approximately 7am on Saturday morning when Lopez, who was working on the second floor of the airport building, heard a loud crash. Lopez ran outside and saw the devastated 57 seater bus crushed against the tunnel.
The driver, who was not injured in the accident, was calling emergency services on his cell phone when Lopez arrived. Miami Dade Fire Rescue arrived just five minutes after the first emergency call, and began to rescue the surviving passengers from the windows. The treatment of the injured passengers was complicated by the fact that they were all Jehovah’s witnesses, and therefore could not receive blood transfusions at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Two passengers remain in a critical condition in the hospital.