published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Two dead, dozens injured in charter bus crash
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING --Two fatalities have been confirmed by the Florida Highway Patrol in the charter bus crash that occurred at 2:15 p.m. Monday afternoon on U. S. 27 at the intersection with Lake Francis Road.
The bus, chartered by South Florida Community College for its Exploritas program, was traveling north, returning from a tour of the Lake Placid murals at the time of the crash.
FHP Lt. Chris Miller confirms that Alice J. Adams, 81, a resident of Lake Placid, was driving east on Lake Frances Road in a 2010 red Mercury when she attempted to enter the northbound lanes of U. S. 27.
At this time it is unclear why Adams failed to yield the right of way to the bus.
Larry L. Metzer, 69, the bus driver, attempted to avoid the Mercury, but the front right of the car struck the left side of the bus. That blow caused the bus to veer off onto the east shoulder of the highway where it overturned into a ditch.
This resulted in the ejection of several passengers and there were extensive injuries.
Thirty-two people, including the driver, were on the bus at the time of the crash. Only one person was not transported to a hospital.
Two were pronounced dead at the scene, three had critical injuries and the rest had serious to minor injuries. Aeromed and Bay Life were two of the several companies providing helicopter evacuation. At least five helicopters picked up victims.
Becky Rousch, who directs community education for SFCC, was on the bus.
Deborah Bell, spokesperson for SFCC, reports Rousch is resting comfortably and recovering.
Of the 11 victims transported to Florida Hospital in Lake Placid, two were later airlifted to larger hospitals and nine remained hospitalized as of Tuesday morning.
Tiffany Bender, spokes person for Florida Hospital, said Tuesday that Florida Hospital, Heartland Division had been expecting 12 victims at the Sebring emergency room, but half of those victims were airlifted directly from the scene and only six victims were transported to the Sebring campus. Of that number two remain hospitalized locally and four were later flown to Orlando.
Highlands Regional Medical Center received seven victims.
John Dunn, spokesperson for Tampa General Hospital, said Tuesday morning that six victims were airlifted to the hospital, three directly from the scene and three from Highlands County hospitals.
Hospitals in Orlando also took in the injured, and Lee Memorial Hospital in Ft. Myers took in one.
Early reports indicated the bus passengers were all from Boston, Mass.
Exploritas, an independent company which SFCC uses in its community education program, is based in Boston, but the tourists on the bus came from many different states, including Indiana and Virginia. Bell said the day of the crash was the first day of a week-long program.
The bus had been on its way to deliver the tourists to their hotel.
"Right now we are focusing on the individuals and their families," Bell said. "We are working closely with local authorities and Exploritas."
John (by: John - 3/1/2010)
Wondering why most of the victims went to Tampa General instead of the three or four closer trauma centers? Also, why not divide them between Trauma Centers. If it is my loved one please take them to the closest trauma center.
Elderly driving (by: Debbie - 2/28/2010)
I used to live in that neighborhood. My neighbor was 80 plus. I saw her in Publix parking lot one day and she was dazed and could not even find her car, Here is the deal if family does not stop this then who do you report it to. The law needs to step in and test these people and take license if not capable of driving safely. How long will this continue. iI also had a volunteer 80 olus with no family that got lost going home, Come on !!!
Susan (by: Rusty - 2/24/2010)
It was actually a black friend of mine that pointed out the racial issue with that particular mural. He also said his opinion was shared with many other black individuals. You may now feel free to attack him on that issue if you wish. As far as the victims of the crash, I am genuinely sorry for the loss of life, and wish quick recoveries to all survivors. One last thing Susan, I still think Lake Placid's murals are gaudy. My black friends sure appreciate you calling their concern "ignorant criticism", you can have all the gaudy murals you want down there for all I care. I was speaking up for some offended friends. By the way, they are well educated on the inspiration behind that particular mural, and still feel it is "racially suggestive". That's their words, not mine. Would you care to address them instead of me? I noticed that you had no argument about the other things in my post. The traffic issues of course.
Rude Rusty Shackleford (by: Susan Geitner - 2/24/2010)
Tour vitriolic statements for our beloved murals displays the cynical glasses you view the world with. I see you posting other callous remarks on other stories and wonder why you are so quick to judge others. The "gaudy" mural of Eddie May Henderson is a tribute to a wonderful black woman in our community who cares for others by her actions, not words. I am PROUD to drive past that mural and all the others our lovely town displays. Perhaps if you took the time to learn the stories behind each mural you might actually learn some appreciation for our local heritage instead of just ignorant criticism.
Rude Rusty Shackleford (by: Susan Geitner - 2/24/2010)
Your vitriolic statements for our beloved murals displays the cynical glasses you view the world with. I see you posting other callous remarks on other stories and wonder why you are so quick to judge others. The "gaudy" mural of Eddie May Henderson is a tribute to a wonderful black woman in our community who cares for others by her actions, not words. I am PROUD to drive past that mural and all the others our lovely town displays. Perhaps if you took the time to learn the stories behind each mural you might actually learn some appreciation for our local heritage instead of just ignorant criticism.
Tragic, yet avoidable (by: Rusty Shackleford - 2/24/2010)
That area is notorious for people getting impatient and jumping on 27 when they should wait. Those side roads are pathways from developments populated largely by the elderly, many one step away from a nursing home, yet still holding valid driver's licenses. Sad event, loss of two lives, and one of the last things they saw was a bunch of gaudy murals. One of which has racial undertones. Look at the one near the tracks at Interlake and you will see what I mean. If I was black I would be offended. My condolences to the families of the victims of Tallahassee, the agency that permits people to retain driving priveleges as long as they can find their way to the car and put it in motion.
To Ray Napper (by: Rusty Shackleford - 2/24/2010)
I seem to remember you defending elderly drivers relating to other incidents. Have your feelings changed on the matter after this?
Bus Tour Crash (by: Concerned Citizen - 2/24/2010)
Although I agree with David, I'm not sure sending an 80+ year old indivivdual to jail will make up for this horrible accident. Certainly her driviers license should be take away from her forever. This should be a lesson to all elderly who are still driving; if you have a hard time seeing, hearing and your mind is not clear as a bell, and you reflexes are not good, DONT DRIVE. My prayers are with the victims and their families.
ms adams (by: david - 2/24/2010)
should be charged get jail time because any other driver would be after 2deaths that she did im praying for the people that they make it
Bus tour crash. (by: Harriet Porter, President Lake Plcid Mural Society - 2/23/2010)
Our heart is heavy, and our thoughts and prayers are with these wonderful people. Since 1993, the Lake Placid Mural Society has seen many Elderhostel, or Exploritis, groups in town to view the murals. They are always very lovely, fun loving, interesting people, with a thurst for knowledge. Our hearts go out to them.
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