Mexico Tour Bus Crash Kills Eight Americans

A crash involving a Mexican tour bus killed 12 people, including eight Americans, as the bus transported tourists to Mayan ruins at Chaccoben. Most of those on the tour bus were from two Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Along with the American victims were two people from Sweden, one person from Canada and a tour guide from Mexico.

Royal Caribbean Passengers on Land for Sightseeing Tour When Bus Crashed 

The crash happened on December 19, 2017, in Costa Maya, along the Caribbean coast. Thirty-one passengers were on their way from Mahahual to the Mayan ruins site. Included in those were passengers from two Royal Caribbean ships, Celebrity Equinox and Serenade of the Seas. Both ships departed from Florida.

Authorities have already suggested that the bus driver may have been speeding, causing him to lose control of the bus. The bus then flipped over and hit a tree. The bus driver was arrested and may face charges. One official, however, speculated that the bus suffered a tire explosion, which may have triggered the tragedy. No other vehicles were involved in the Mexican bus crash.

Following the crash, the American Embassy in Mexico issued a statement:

"We can confirm the death of eight U.S. citizens as a result of the December 19 crash in Quintana Roo, Mexico. An additional seven U.S. citizens were injured in the accident. We express our heartfelt condolences to all those affected by this tragedy. We are in contact with local authorities, and have staff on the scene and at local hospitals to assist victims and loved ones."

Injured passengers were taken to nearby hospitals. The injured tourists were from Canada, Brazil, and the United States. 

Officials Identify Victims of Mexico Tour Bus Crash 

  • Bob Bever, from Tennessee
  • Anna Behar, from Virginia
  • Daniel Behar, Anna's 11-year-old son
  • Fanya Shamis, 78, Anna's mother, from Florida
  • Andy Fritz, of Washington
  • Jody Fritz, Andy's wife
  • Laura Couallier, 53, from Florida
  • Christophe Couallier, 55, Laura's husband

Behar's husband, Moises, and 15-year-old son, David, were among the injured. They were flown by an Air Force plane to a hospital in South Florida. Moises suffered broken ribs while David was examined for a possible knee injury.  

Tourists Return to Florida Aboard Serenade of the Seas Cruise Ship Following Tragic Mexico Bus Accident 

As investigators in Mexico determine what caused the tragedy, one of the cruise ships—Serenade of the Seas—brought passengers back to Port Everglades in the early morning hours of December 22. Survivors described the chaos following the accident.

"We saw all of the bodies laying down with blood all over them," said John Witten, from Jacksonville. It was not like United States where you have ambulances everywhere. I feel sorry for the people because there were no helicopters—there was no nothing but they might have stayed out there for two hours with blood all over them." Witten was on a second bus.

Other passengers said they were concerned no one told them they should put on their seatbelts.

"I was just mentioning to my mom when we were on the bus 'we should put our seatbelt' because nobody is mentioning it to us," said Sandra Novoa. "Because if we have an accident, we're the first people that will fly out of these buses."

Tourists who returned home to the United States said they were relieved and grateful to be alive and home.

"You feel really sad for the folks who were doing the same thing we did," said Chuck Snyder. "They were just trying to enjoy the holidays and take a little cruise and then tragedy strikes."

According to reports, passengers who suffered more serious injuries in the Mexico Tour Bus Crash were scheduled to arrive home via the Celebrity Equinox a day after the Serenade of the Seas returned.

"It definitely impacted some of our joyous times that day because I feel so terrible for those families. But at the same time I'm grateful that we were safe and everything was OK with us," said Jennifer Uhl.

A reporter for CBS who was on the Celebrity Equinox described the mood as passengers made their way back to the ship.

"It is an absolute tragedy," said Scott Mayman. "There were very emotional scenes on board the ship this afternoon as everybody re-boarded the vessel wondering what was going on."

Bus Crash not the First to Kill American Tourists in Mexico 

Unfortunately, tour bus crashes happen, and they can have devastating consequences for tourists and their loved ones. The December 19 crash is not the first to happen in the area. In 1993, a bus carrying more than 50 tourists was traveling too fast for road conditions and crashed into a power pole. Twenty-five people, including 14 Americans, died in the crash.