A woman's airport visit to greet an arriving traveler turned deadly when she tripped in a roadway and a charter bus ran over her.
It forced the normally hectic four-lane arrivals section of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to be shut down for about four hours Saturday. Cars arriving at the airport were redirected to the departures area.
Some fliers said the traffic delays annoyed them, but then they were shaken to hear a woman died.
"I'm irritated. I want to leave here," said Ashoya Reid, 30, of West Palm Beach, as she sat in the departures area after arriving from Jamaica. "A bus killed someone? That's so devastating. It's sad. I thought [the police activity] was something else."
The collision occurred about 2:30 p.m. outside Terminal 4, officials said.
The woman, whose name hasn't been released, arrived with two other people in a dark gray Ford Escape, which stopped in a travel lane were vehicles aren't supposed to stop, said Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles.
"Why that vehicle was stopped? That's still under investigation. It would be like stopping your car in the [middle of the] highway," he said.
Riding as a back-seat passenger, the woman got out of the SUV about 2:30 p.m. At some point, she stumbled and was run over by the bus, Jachles said.
"She went to greet a passenger that was arriving here, and as she was getting back into the vehicle it appears she tripped and fell under the wheels of the bus," he said.
The private bus, owned by Opa-locka-based Cabana Coaches, was in a travel lane to the left of the SUV and carried approximately a dozen passengers, plus the driver, who were heading to Miami for a cruise. No one on the bus was injured, Jachles said.
Traffic is not supposed to stop nor are motorists allowed to let anyone board or get off in either of the lanes those vehicles traveled in, Jachles said.
"It's tragic any way you look at it," he said.
Still, it would be too early to discuss whether anyone involved in the collision was negligent, Jachles said.
"It is an ongoing investigation. Whether there are charges or not is premature to say. What I can tell you is that a thorough, complete crash investigation will be done," Jachles said.
Cabana Coaches employees who were at the crash site declined to comment.
Reached by phone Saturday evening, Cabana Coaches spokesman Roberto Arencibia said the company was cooperating with investigators and would wait for authorities to complete the investigation before making an official statement.
"Safety is our main concern," he said. "The [driver] is doing good. Of course, he's upset. He's worried about the [victim's] family."
Arencibia said the charter bus passengers made it to their cruise on time.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the company, which has a staff of 59 drivers, has a satisfactory safety rating and no reported accidents, as of its last review date of September 2011.
The Medical Examiner's investigator arrived at the scene about 4:45 p.m., just steps from where the Caribbean, Spirit and Avianca airlines are situated.
Investigators took measurements and photographs around the vehicles in the terminal, which was atypically empty because of the rerouted traffic.
In the arrivals area of the airport, Harold Bastidas waited for a relative to drop off his carry-on bag before his flight back home to Colombia. He worried he would miss his flight, and considered leaving on the flight without his luggage.
Inside the terminal, near the luggage carousels, people delayed by the traffic jam hurried to pick up travelers. Some were relieved to find that some flights had been delayed. Some glanced over at the crash site, which could be seen through the terminal's large glass windows.
Ralph Acosta, who flew in from Atlantic City and stopped in Fort Lauderdale for a few hours before taking a midnight flight to Nicaragua, said he arrived just as the accident had occurred.
He heard nothing "except the police sirens," he said. "And then the crowd was being sent away from downstairs."
He had planned to meet with his daughter and other relatives in Miami for a few hours before continuing his travels Saturday, he said.
"This is delaying everything, but you have no choice," Acosta said.
Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.
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