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Accident Report Detail

Agricultural Labor Bus and Truck-Tractor Collision at US-98–SR-363 Intersection Near St. Marks, Florida July 2, 2016

Executive Summary

​On Saturday, July 2, 2016, about 5:16 a.m., a 1979 Blue Bird bus, operated by Billy R. Evans Harvesting, Inc., of Belle Glade, Florida, was traveling south on State Road 363 (SR-363), near St. Marks, Florida. The bus was occupied by a 56-year-old driver and 33 passengers, most of whom were migrant agricultural (AG) workers. As the bus driver approached the US Highway 98 (US-98) intersection, he did not stop at the stop sign and overhead flashing red traffic control beacons, entered the intersection, and was struck by a westbound 2005 Freightliner truck-tractor in combination with an enclosed semitrailer. The truck-tractor—occupied by a 55-year-old driver and a passenger—was operated by Verity Van Lines, Inc., of Seaford, New York. Overhead flashing yellow traffic control beacons controlled westbound traffic on US-98 at the intersection.

The front of the truck-tractor struck the left side of the bus slightly behind its front axle, resulting in the rapid counterclockwise rotation of the truck-tractor and the breach of its right-side-mounted diesel fuel tank—which ignited a fire. The front of the semitrailer then struck the left side of the bus near its rear wheel area as both vehicles proceeded toward the southwest corner of the intersection. Prior to coming to rest, the vehicles collided with fixed roadside objects, including a utility pole and its supporting cables. As a result of the crash, the truck driver and three bus passengers died. The bus driver, 28 bus passengers, and a passenger in the sleeper berth of the truck sustained injuries of varying degrees.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the St. Marks, Florida, crash was the bus driver’s failure to stop at the intersection due to inattention, likely caused by the effects of fatigue; and his unfamiliarity with the rural roadway, which was dark with limited lighting. Contributing to the crash were the failure of Billy R. Evans Harvesting, Inc., to exercise adequate safety oversight of the bus driver and the lack of effective oversight of the motor carrier by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the US Department of Labor. Contributing to the severity of the injuries were the rupture of the truck’s right-side-mounted diesel fuel tank, leading to a fast-spreading postcrash fire; and the failure of the truck driver to wear his lap/shoulder belt.

Accident Location: St. Marks , FL USA  
Accident Date: 7/2/2016
Accident ID: HWY16MH019

Date Adopted: 11/28/2017
NTSB Number: HAR1705
NTIS Number: PB2018-100307