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Sat 9:40pm: 2 die in bus crash at Miami airport; 3 critical

December 1, 2012
The Associated Press , Tribune Chronicle | TribToday.com

MIAMI - A charter bus carrying 32 members of a church group hit a concrete overpass at Miami International Airport after the driver got lost Saturday, killing two men on board and leaving three others critically injured, officials said.

The large, white bus was too tall for the 8-foot-6-inch entrance to the arrivals area, said airport spokesman Greg Chin. Buses are supposed to go through the departures area, which has a higher ceiling, he said.

Chin said passengers told him they were part of a group of Jehovah's Witnesses headed to West Palm Beach. Police said in a news release that the group had chartered the bus to take them to a church convention there.

The group was made up of congregation members of Sweetwater's Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, said Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroo.

"This is a tragic accident that has affected many families, as well as, our Sweetwater family," Maroo said in a press release. "I am pursuing all avenues to get in touch with the appropriate persons to officially extend our help to the congregation and those who were hurt."

A phone number listed for the center in Sweetwater went unanswered.

At the airport, two large signs warn drivers of large vehicles not to pass beneath the concrete overpass. One attached to the top of the concrete barrier reads: "High Vehicle STOP Turn Left." The other, placed to the left of the driveway and several feet in front of the barrier, says all vehicles higher than the 8-foot-6 threshold must turn left.

Three people were at hospitals in critical condition. The other 27 surviving passengers were hurt, but their injuries were less extensive, authorities said.

One man died at the scene; the second died later at a hospital.

Police identified the deceased as Serafin Castillo, 86, and Francisco Urana, 56, both of Miami.

Eight of the 14 patients taken to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital were in stable condition while two others were in critical, said hospital spokeswoman Lidia Amoretti. Three others were expected to be discharged later Saturday.

A majority of the injuries were facial due to the frontal impact, said Miami-Dade Police spokesman Det. Alvaro Zabaleta.

 
 

 

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