Families, survivors file suit in MIA bus crash

 

bmedina@miamiherald.com

Relatives of one of the passengers who died in last weekend’s bus crash at Miami International Airport, as well as one of the survivors, have filed negligence suits against the driver and the bus service company.

Two negligence lawsuits have been filed against the bus company and the driver involved in the crash at Miami International Airport.

In their lawsuit, the family of Francisco Ureña, one of two passengers who died in the Dec. 1 crash, accused driver Ramón Ferreiro and Miami Bus Service Corp., of negligent homicide.

“The big story here is how and why was this driver behind the wheel,” said their attorney, Mike Eidson. “What kind of safety controls are in place to prevent drivers who would do what he did from behind the wheel? He got lost in the simplest route.”

Ferreiro was driving 32 members of a Sweetwater-area Jehovah’s Witness congregation to a general assembly in West Palm Beach. The 47-year-old told authorities he got lost, then confused when he found himself at the airport.

He drove his 11-foot bus past several yellow signs warning drivers that vehicles taller than 8 feet, 6 inches cannot go through an overpass in the airport’s lower-level arrivals area.

Ureña, 56, and Serafín Castillo, 86, died in the crash.

On Thursday, Miriam Lorenza Machado, who survived the crash, also filed a negligence suit.

Her attorney Stephen Rossman said he could not understand how Ferreiro missed the yellow warning signs.

“It is really mind-boggling how he could not pay attention to all the warnings that were there before his eyes when he is supposed to be a professional driver,” he said. “We find it to be total negligence and carelessness.”

Machado, who was sitting in the second row, suffered four broken ribs and injuries to her vertebrae. The 70-year-old widow remained in stable condition at Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital late Friday evening.

“We have a lot of questions,” said her son, Yovanis Chávez. “We don’t know what’s going to happen to my mother or whether she’s going to heal.”

Machado is not the only survivor who has sought legal help. West Palm Beach attorney Patrick Cousins is representing at least six other survivors seeking compensation for medical costs.

Cousins told El Nuevo Herald on Thursday that he hopes to settle the matter out of court.

Meanwhile, Alberto and Mayling Hernández, who own Miami Bus Service Corp., could not be reached late Friday for comment.

The day of the crash, Ureña’s family, his wife and two adult children – Norma Tavares and Anarshille and Francisco Ureña – traveled by car to the West Palm Beach general assembly while Ureña joined his friends on the bus.

“They feel really bad that they couldn’t be with him when this happened,” Eidson said. “When they got to the hospital, he was already dead.”

For his part, the driver said in a statement released Thursday that he was praying for the victims’ families.

“I know there are no words of comfort for what happened, but my family and I are praying for all those affected and their loved ones,” he wrote in Spanish. “I’m emotionally and physically very shocked by what happened.’’

Ferreiro, 47, took a wrong turn on South Le Jeune Road, and was apparently going too fast. He sped past multiple signs warning of the low clearance at the airport’s arrival concourse, smashing the 11-foot-tall bus into an overpass.

The passengers sitting in the front were killed; the remaining 30 passengers went to hospitals for examinations and treatment.

Ferreiro, who had a clean driving record prior to the crash, has not been charged.

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