Bus Hit By Tractor-Trailer in Florida Killing 5 and Injuring 5
Date Published: July 2, 2016
By: Jason Saltzman, Associate Attorney
TALLAHASSEE, FL, (THE CANADIAN PRESS) - Twenty-five people were recently injured, with five additional people killed, when an outdated bus that was carrying farmworkers was hit by a tractor-trailer. The two vehicles then erupted in flames. The incident occurred at the crossroads of a highway intersection up in the Florida Panhandle.
The bus, owned and operated by the Blue Bird company, was travelling with approximately thirty-four adults and children when it sped through a blinking red light and also a stop sign. This was the moment that the tractor-trailer collided with the bus.
Officer Charlie Creel, Sherriff for Wakulla County, called the accident "one of the worst he's seen in several decades in law enforcement".
The Sherriff also described the crash as "very horrendous".
Officer Creel, interviewed by The Associated Press by telephone, mentioned that one of the passengers on the bus was a small child. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Gordon Sheets of Copiague, New York, also tragically perished in the collision.
Sherriff Creel described the bus as a retired school bus model constructed back in 1979. It first struck the tractor-trailer behind the door on the driver's side and then after it spun on the roadway, hit it again as both vehicles were heading off of the road. This is when both came to stop just under a power line.
The scene was described as a gruesome and chaotic situation. The bus was on fire when officers arrived.
Sherriff's deputies attempted to rescue as many victims as they could until the bus burst into flames. The fire then quickly spread through the bus and they were required to stop. Fatalities would likely have been much greater if officers did not work as hard as they did in their rescue attempt.
Both vehicle fires burned out on their own due to the resting spot being located against a power line pole with live wires hanging down. Water could not be used to extinguish the fire at this point. By the time the power was cut, the fire was already out.
The accident occurred along US-98, which straddles the coast along the Gulf of Mexico. The bus was travelling from Bainbridge in south Georgia to Belle Glade, Florida.
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