TALLAHASSEE, Florida, USA (sentinel.ht) – A collision between a bus of Haitian migrant workers and semi truck left four dead, including a child, and 35 injured as the group was making their way from Georgia to South Florida.
Florida Highway Patrol investigators say the bus, which was headed southbound on Highway 98 in Wakulla, did not stop for a blinking red light. It hit a truck that was heading west and then slammed into a power pole around 5 a.m.
Skid marks feet from the intersection indicate the semi-truck may have only braked seconds before impact. Electrical wires were knocked to the ground and both vehicles caught fire.
FHP identified 56-year-old Elie Dupiche of Belle Glade as the driver of the 1979 Blue Bird bus. It was carrying up to 35 migrant workers from Bainbridge, Georgia, who were going to Belle Glade for some work.
Gordon A. Sheets, a 55-year-old from Copiague, New York, was the driver of the 2005 Freightliner semi truck. Sheets had one passenger, 21-year-old Rafael Nieves of Sound Beach, New York.
Dupiche is currently in critical condition at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. Sheets died as a result of his injuries. Nieves was left uninjured.
Wakulla Sheriff Charlie Creel said four of the dead died on the scene and the other died at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.
TMH spokesman Warren Jones said 18 people were taken to the hospital reported the Tallahassee Democrat. Twelve were taken to the Bixler Emergency and Trauma Center on the hospital’s main grounds at Magnolia Drive and Miccosukee Road. He said the patients taken there are the most seriously injured. Four other patients were taken to TMH’s Emergency Center Northeast.
By Saturday evening, 12 patients remained — three in critical condition, three in serious condition and six in fair condition — and were being held overnight.
Jones said the hospital is working with the American Red Cross to connect patients with their families. A Red Cross welcome center for the injured was set up in Tallahassee.