Burst into flames
News sources say the Blue Bird bus, which was carrying more than 30 agricultural workers, ran a flashing red light at a rural intersection and hit a tractor trailer, causing both vehicles to burst into flames.
The driver of the truck, identified by authorities as 55-year-old Gordon A. Sheets of Copiague, New York, died from the injuries he sustained in the accident. The bus driver, 56-year-old from Elie Dupiche of Belle Glade, Florida, was hospitalized and listed in critical condition.
NTSB investigators have been working closely with the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), who responded to the accident site Saturday. The FHP documented the scene and preserved evidence relevant to the safety investigation, including both of the vehicles.
History of ag worker bus crashes
This is the third NTSB investigation of crashes involving agricultural workers since November 2015 when a motorcoach overturned in Little Rock, Arkansas, killing six. Six agricultural workers lost their lives June 18, 2016, when a 15-passenger van occupied by 16 people overturned in Ruther Glen, Virginia. The NTSB has been working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Labor on all three of these crashes.
The NTSB team, which will arrive in Florida today and is expected to be on-scene for up to a week, will be led by investigator-in-charge Jennifer Morrison. The team includes specialists in motor carrier, highway factors, vehicle factors, human performance and survival factors.
The agency says it will issue a preliminary report within 30 days.