United States

Coconut Creek Grandmother Among Confirmed Dead in Mexico Bus Crash

"Due to a lack of care the driver lost control," a Mexican state official said

What to Know

  • Family members told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that 78-year-old Fanya Shamis was on the bus carrying cruise ship passengers.
  • Family members also said that one of Shamis’s grandchildren may have been among those killed.

One South Florida family is grieving the news that their beloved mother and grandmother was one of at least 12 people killed when a bus filled with tourists crashed in Mexico on Tuesday.

Officials confirmed the names of three people killed, including 78-year-old Fanya Shamis of Coconut Creek, who were on the bus carrying cruise ship passengers on a site-seeing trip when the crash occurred. The U.S. State Department confirmed earlier Wednesday that American citizens were among those killed and injured.

Two others that were killed, Anna Behar and Daniel Behar of Virginia, are believed to be relatives of Shamis. Moises Behar, Anna's husband and Daniel's father, as well as another son, David, are among those injured.

Outside her home, neighbors expressed their sympathy upon hearing the news.

"That's terrible, I can't believe that,” said family friend Richard Weinstein. “I know she lost her husband recently, and now it's another issue for the family, it's terrible, really sad."

Late Wednesday, the North Mason School District in Washington state said Sand Hill assistant principal Jody Fritz was also killed in the crash.

A total of eight Americans, two Swedes and a Canadian were among those killed when the bus taking them from their cruise ships- which departed from South Florida - to visit Mayan ruins crashed in southeastern Mexico, officials said Wednesday. A tour guide was the 12th fatality.

The Quintana Roo state government said the injured also included three Canadians, four Brazilians and four Americans. Two Swedes were transported to the United States for treatment. Seven others slightly injured in Tuesday's accident have returned to their cruise ship, officials said.

Quintana Roo state prosecutor Miguel Angel Pech Cen said at a news conference that a preliminary investigation indicates that the bus driver's negligence led him to lose control, and when he tried to return back to a narrow highway, the bus flipped, struck a tree and landed in vegetation along the roadside.

"Due to a lack of care the driver lost control of the bus' steering to the right, leaving the asphalt," Pech Cen said. He said signs found at the scene indicate the driver was going too fast.

The injured bus driver was taken into custody, the government statement said. The cause of the crash was under investigation.

"We express our heartfelt condolences to all those affected by this tragedy," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

The bus flipped on a narrow highway in Quintana Roo state while carrying tourists to Mayan ruins.

Chris Brawley, of Haslet, Texas, was on one of the two cruise ships that had passengers on the crashed bus and was taking a different bus to the ruins. He said his bus passed by just minutes after the accident and he observed skid marks on the dry pavement.

Brawley said the ship he was sailing on, the Serenade of the Seas, sailed out of Mahahual Tuesday around 5:30 p.m., a couple hours after its scheduled departure. It was docked Wednesday up the coast in Cozumel.

"Captain informed us this morning one of our passengers passed overnight," Brawley said.

"She was always out in the morning and taking walks in the community and taking care of their relatives' dogs and walking them around,” Weinstein said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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