On Dec. 19, 2017, a tour bus crash in Mexico left 12 people dead, including eight Americans. Over a dozen other people sustained injuries in the accident, which occurred in an area called Costa Maya, a stretch of Caribbean coast on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo.
The tour bus was shuttling 31 passengers from the coastal village of Mahahual to Chacchoben; a Mayan ruins site about 110 miles south Tulum. The passengers aboard the tour bus consisted primarily of tourists aboard two Royal Caribbean cruise ships. About 23 of them came from a ship called the Celebrity Equinox, which departed from PortMiami (Miami, Fla.) on Saturday, Dec. 16. Four others came from the Serenade of the Seas, which departed from Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) on Friday, Dec. 15.
Costa Maya Mahahual, the bus company involved in the accident, issued a statement indicating a guide and driver were accompanying the tourists on the excursion.
Eight Americans on Royal Caribbean Excursion Killed in Costa Maya, Mexico Bus Crash
The U.S. State Department issued a statement following the accident that “multiple” Americans were among the deceased. Several media outlets have since confirmed that an 11-year-old boy was one of the eight Americans killed in the Mexican bus crash. Seven other American tourists sustained injuries. The other fatalities include two Swedish tourists, a Canadian and a Mexican tour guide.
According to law enforcement officials, the out-of-control bus flipped over onto its side then careened off the pavement before finally coming to a stop in vegetation along the side of the highway. The accident happened on a narrow road that is not equipped with a shoulder or a guardrail. Weather conditions at the time were reportedly clear.
While an investigation into the Mexico tour bus crash is in its early stages, Quintana Roo state prosecutor Miguel Angel Pech Cen told the media that it appears the bus driver’s negligence and potential speeding led him to lose control of the vehicle and leave the road. When he attempted to get the bus back on the roadway, the bus flipped and hit a tree.
No other vehicles were involved in the crash. Authorities arrested the tour bus driver, who was among the injured.
Carlos Briceno Villagomez, head of the police in the Bacalar municipality, told the media that he believed the bus driver might have lost control of the vehicle due to a tire blowout. “It seems a front tire of the bus exploded, making it lose control and leave the asphalt,” Briceno Villagomez told Mexican TV network Televisa.
Speak with an Experienced Bus Accident Lawyer About Filing a Claim in the U.S.
If you or a loved one were harmed in the Dec. 19 Mexico tour bus crash, you may be able to bring the responsible parties to justice in United States court. The law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman has experience representing American victims who were killed or injured in international tour bus accidents.
- Baum Hedlund represented Americans involved in a tour bus accident in Faversham, England. On Nov. 10, 1993, a tour bus transporting 46 tourists to Canterbury Cathedral clipped the back of a van, careened off the highway and plunged down an embankment. Nine Americans were killed in the crash, along with the British bus driver. In this case, our bus crash attorneys successfully argued that if a tour is purchased in the U.S., the company that provided the tour should have to face the U.S. laws, no matter where the bus crash occurred. Our law firm represented 22 passengers from this crash, five of whom tragically lost their lives.
If you are interested in learning more about your legal rights in this case, please contact the law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman by filling out our contact form, or calling 800-827-0087 today for a free case evaluation.
What Caused the Mexico Tour Bus Crash?
An investigation into the tour bus accident will likely take months to complete. Until investigators issue their final report, we can only speculate the cause (or causes) of the crash.
The crash investigation likely will focus on several important issues, including but not limited to:
- Was the bus speeding at the time of the accident?
- Was the bus driver distracted in the vital moments before the crash?
- The road was narrow and did not have a shoulder or guard rails. With this in mind, did the bus driver operate the vehicle using an abundance of caution to keep passengers safe?
- Did the bus have any mechanical issues?
- Was the bus properly maintained?
- Was Costa Maya Mahahual (the bus company) in good standing with applicable transportation safety laws?
- Were the bus tires roadworthy?
- Did Royal Caribbean Cruises properly vet the bus company it contracted with for this excursion?
Excursions Offered Through Royal Caribbean and Other Cruise Lines Can be Dangerous
The Mexico bus accident that killed and injured tourists aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is not the first time that a shore excursion has ended in tragedy.
In January of 2016, a tour bus slammed into a truck in Falmouth, Jamaica. A tourist who had been traveling with a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship died in the incident and a dozen others were injured. The tourists were participating in an excursion offered through Royal Caribbean Cruises.
A lawsuit filed in the wake of the tour bus crash against Royal Caribbean accused the bus driver of speeding, driving erratically and frequently changing lanes.
In November of 2016, a tour bus transporting tourists aboard a Carnival-owned P&O Cruises ship crashed in Dominica. One British citizen died and nine others sustained injuries. Carnival offered the excursion to its passengers.
In 2010, a tour bus crashed in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, killing one person and seriously injuring two others. The tourists harmed in the accident were participating in an excursion through Princess Cruises.
Mexico Tour Bus Crash Updates
Eighth Deceased American Identified – Dec. 23, 2017
Bob Bever of Knoxville, Tennessee was identified as the eighth victim killed in the Mexico bus accident. Bever’s wife, Barbara, and two daughters were also on the bus. They sustained injuries but survived the wreck.
All of the Americans killed in the crash have been identified:
Christophe Couallier of Florida
Laura Couallier of Florida
Fanya Shamis of Florida
Bob Bever of Tennessee
Anna Behar of Virginia
Daniel Behar of Virginia
Andy Fritz of Washington
Jody Fritz of Washington
Florida Couple Killed in Crash Identified – Dec. 22, 2017
Authorities identified Christophe Couallier, 55, and his wife Laura Couallier, 52, as two of the 12 people killed in the Mexico tour bus crash. The Couallier’s were from Apopka, FL. Christophe worked as the CFO for the Port of Miami Tunnel Project, and his wife Laura was a freelance artist and graphic designer.
Two More Deceased Victims Identified, Survivors Released From Hospitals – Dec. 21, 2017
Two deceased victims from the tour bus accident in Mexico were identified by officials as Jody and Andy Fritz of Washington State. Jody Fritz was an assistant principal at an elementary school in the town of Belfair, while her husband Andy was an environmental science professor at Clover Park Technical College in Tacoma. Both were 51 years of age.
As of Dec. 21, four of the injured passengers remained hospitalized—a Brazilian and three Americans. All others that were hospitalized, an estimated 16, have been released from area hospitals, per Quintana Roo officials.
Three Family Members identified as Mexico Bus Crash Victims – Dec. 20, 2017
Family members identified three victims who were killed in the Mexico bus accident. Anna Behar of Lorton, Virginia was killed, along with her 11-year-old son Daniel and her 78-year-old mother, Fanya Shamis, of Florida.
Behar’s husband and second son were also with the family. Both survived the crash.