Two occupants of a Dodge Challenger have died after a collision with a high school charter bus in Fort Lauderdale recently. There were nearly three dozen students from McArthur, South Broward and Stranahan high schools aboard during the evening crash, which happened at 11:47 p.m. as students returned from a four-day field trip from Tallahassee. Also aboard were the driver and three adults.
Witnesses described the bus accident as “fiery” and “chaotic.”
None of the children were hurt. A heartbreaking scene unfolded a couple hours after the crash, with crews still on site, when the father of one decedent arrived on scene, begging for information on his son and his condition. More relatives continued to arrive shortly thereafter. Both men were fathers — one had a 6-year-old daughter and another a 21-year-old daughter.
The preliminary investigation by officials reveals at the time of the crash, the bus was making a left turn from northbound on 27th Avenue to go westbound on 11th Court. Meanwhile, the car was driving south on 27th Avenue. It’s not clear at this point which vehicle had the right-of-way. Moments after the collision, the vehicle burst into flames.
Witnesses began trying to help students out of the bus, as they weren’t sure whether the bus or the car was on fire and students were having trouble exiting through the door at the front. They were throwing their belongings out of the bus and then jumping out. All children got off the bus safely.
Even moments after the flames were first extinguished, they fired up a second time.
One of the witnesses ran to his home, grabbed a hammer and ran back to the car to bust out the glass of the car. They dragged the lifeless driver out of the car. Then they tried getting the passenger out, but his pants were caught on a wheel component, and witnesses feared the car would burst into flames again.
Authorities say the 41-year-old driver died on impact. His 37-year-old passenger was still alive when rescue crews arrived and was transported to Broward Health Medical Center, where he later died.
The bus was reportedly owned by a Miami-based company called Academy Bus, and the company declined comment on the bus accident when asked by a Sun Sentinel reporter.
It was the second time in as many days that there was a deadly bus accident in Broward. The earlier crash happened in Pembroke Pines. A man from Tamarac was killed and his passenger seriously injured when the motor vehicle they were in slammed into the back of a school bus belonging to the Broward county School District.
National statistics on bus accidents and bus safety vary because there are many different kinds of buses — from charter buses to motor coaches to school buses. In a study conducted in 2010 by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, there are on average 63,000 buses of all kinds involved in traffic accidents each year. About 14,000 of those result in injury and roughly 325 result in death. About 50 of those deaths are bus passengers or drivers. The rest are those in other cars or bicyclists or pedestrians.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Driver, passenger killed after car, charter bus crash in Fort Lauderdale, May 27, 2016, By Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel
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