Tour Bus Overturns; One Killed, Dozens Injured
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ A bus carrying tourists to Walt Disney World overturned Sunday on a slick highway, killing one person, injuring 31 others and closing part of the road for more than three hours, police said.
The 49-seat Galaxy Tour bus was carrying Central Americans to the amusement park, said Highway Patrol Lt. Jim Lee.
The bus flipped upside down and landed on the highway shoulder, crushing the cabin and bursting luggage compartments.
Three passengers were seriously injured, Lee said. The rest of the passengers and the driver suffered mostly cuts and bruises and were taken to four hospitals, the officer said.
″Considering the number of people on the bus and the violent matter in which it overturned, it’s amazing that more people were not injured or killed,″ Lee said.
The accident occurred on a part of the Florida Turnpike that is under construction, with only two of its three lanes open. A Galaxy representative on the scene, who refused to give his name, said the accident could have been caused by moisture and loose gravel on the road.
″He’s the best driver in the company,″ the representative said of driver Fernando Ortiz, 39. ″He’s driven with us for 10 years without an accident. You can see how many rocks there are on this road. That’s why this happened.″
But Lee said officers were still investigating and no cause had been determined.
″There were reports from a witness that (the bus) was exceeding speed limits,″ Lee said.
The accident closed the turnpike from the Golden Glades interchange in Dade County to the Sunrise Boulevard exit in Broward County, said Re Parrish, a FHP duty officer. The roadway was reopened early Sunday afternoon, police said.
Lee said the bus had left Miami Beach earlier Sunday, after picking up the tourists at various hotels.
The tourists had been in the United States for less than a week, and were scheduled to return to their native countries soon after the Orlando-area trek.
The dead woman was identified as Olga Batres De Leon, 44, of Guatemala City, Guatemala, police said. A brother, a niece and a nephew of Ms. De Leon were among the injured, Lee said.