Authorities: Tour bus carrying seniors rolls over in Fla., killing 2; several hospitalized

Monday, February 22, 2010

Authorities: Tour bus rollover in Fla. kills 2

LAKE PLACID, Fla. — A bus carrying senior citizens on a cultural tour was struck by a car and rolled over Monday on a rural Florida highway, killing two people and critically injuring three others, authorities said.

The bus with 32 people aboard had just visited murals in Lake Placid and was headed back to a nearby hotel when the accident happened. A car turning onto the highway failed to yield and struck the side of the bus, a Florida Highway Patrol crash report said. The bus ran off the road and rolled over at least twice, ejecting several passengers.

“It was a very graphic scene,” said Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton.

The patrol said two died at the scene, while three had critical injuries. The rest of the injuries ranged from serious to minor, and all but one of the people on the bus were taken to local hospitals. The driver of the car wasn’t injured.

No charges had been filed Monday night.

Sheriff Benton said multiple agencies worked to help the injured, and within an hour and a half, had everything under control at the scene in Lake Placid, about 30 miles northwest of Lake Okeechobee.

“When I left the scene, every single one of the passengers had been triaged, treated, backboarded and transported,” she said.

The passengers, who ranged in age from 66 to 87, had traveled to the area from around the U.S. to participate in an educational program affiliated with South Florida Community College in Avon Park.

College President Norm Stephens said the school’s director of community education was on the bus and called him around 2:15 p.m. to tell him of the wreck.

“It’s tragic,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. It’s a horrible thing.”

They were part of the “Exploritas” program, formerly known as Elderhostel. Stephens said the seniors were on a tour called “Discover Old Florida,” and that the college had hired the bus to drive the group.

According to the Exploritas website, the tour included nature trail hikes and visits to area historical museums.

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