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FHP: 4 dead, 24 Injured in Wakulla Bus, Semi Accident

Posted: 10:45 AM, Jul 03, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-03 08:59:54-04
FHP: 5 Dead, 24 injured in Bus vs. Semi Accident in Wakulla

UPDATE 10:50 AM 6/3: What was initially reported as five reported deaths by Florida Highway Patrol has been changed to four. 

Reports released by FHP now indicate that four people were killed in the accident at the intersection of Woodville and Highway 98.

Next of Kin for two of these individuals have still not been located..

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KELLI KENNEDY

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Authorities were investigating Sunday what caused a driver of a decades-old school bus to run a flashing red light and collide with a tractor-trailer causing both to burst into flames killing five people and injuring 25 others.

Wakulla County Sheriff Charlie Creel said Saturday that speed was not a factor in the early morning crash.

The driver of the bus, 56-year-old Elie Dupiche of Belle Glade, was hospitalized in critical condition.

Creel said a small child from the bus and the driver of the tractor trailer, Gordon Sheets, 55 of Copiague, New York, died in the crash.

Creed said the bus was headed south on a north-south state road when it collided with the tractor-trailer, which was westbound on U.S. 98 - a Florida coastal highway.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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UPDATE 7:00 PM: Roads are open again after the deadly accident Saturday morning in which 5 people died and multiple were taken in to the hospital, but it isn't the first time the intersection at Woodville and Highway 98 has seen an incident. 

According to residents the intersection has seen many deaths before from people running the light. They say the intersection needs to be a stop light all four ways. 

The accident that involved a semi truck and a bus full of Haitian Workers had all fire rescue personnel on scene and they still needed back up. Last night through social media they released a statement thanking the ones who helped them:

I am sure that by this time many of you have seen the pictures and heard the story of this morning’s tragedy. 

This was a horrific wreck that, if not for the heroic actions of WCFR personal would have been worse. These guys did not hesitate to enter the burning bus to get injured people out. They then set up triage areas to identify the most critical and had them ready for transport first. Even with all four WCFR ambulances, four Fire trucks, WCFR volunteers and off duty crew members who came, our service was stretched with the enormous size of this wreck. 

Our neighbors in Leon County did not think twice to answer our call for help. Leon County EMS sent 4 ambulances with crews and TFD sent multiple apparatus and crews. Leon County SO sent down several deputies to help also. Franklin County EMS were on the way home from transporting a patient to TMH, but when they saw the smoke from the wreck they came to help and transported two of the trauma alerts. In the end there were 24 injured taken to the area hospitals and five were lost. Our local chapter of the American Red Cross came to the scene and continuously gave out bottles of water and Gatorade. WCFR was on scene for several more hours after till all the wreckage was carried away.

I want to say thank you to Wakulla County Sheriffs Dept. and Dispatchers, Leon County EMS, Franklin County EMS, Tallahassee Fire Dept. and the American Red Cross for all of the extraordinary help that was given this morning.

Electricity to the area has been turned back on as power lines were affected by the accident. Several Poles and lines had to be replaced and electrical units worked to restore power to the area as the debris was cleared. 

At this point Florida Highway Patrol is still looking into the incident and investigations are ongoing. 

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UPDATE, 12:00 PM: Florida Highway Patrol has released more information on the accident that occurred on Woodville Highway Saturday morning. 

Reports State that, Ellie Dupiche, was driving the bus containing more 34 Haitian Migrant Workers at the time of the accident. His condition is critical and he is receiving medical attention. 

Dupiche had gone through a flashing red light when he collided with a semi  driven by, Gordon Sheets. The passenger of the vehicle Rafael Nieves was unharmed in the accident and was in the sleeper in the truck at the time. 

Both vehicles caught on fire after coming to a rest on the southwest shoulder of the intersection. 5 people, Dupiche and four occupents traveling on the bus were pronounced dead. 

Investigators are in the process of identifying the names of the passengers.

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UPDATE, 10:11 AM: Major Morris with Wakulla County Sheriff's Office has stated that 24 people have been transported to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, TMH North, and Capital Region Medical Center. 

Seven of these people are critically injured. Morris says, that officials the Semi was traveling west on Highway 98 and the Bus carrying farm workers was heading from Baninbridge Georgia when the accident occurred. 

According to reports, the bus ran the light at the intersection and collided with the semi. They then landed in a nearby ditch. 

At this time, it is being reported that 5 people are dead and one is uninjured. This person was in the sleeper of the semi at the time of the accident.

According to the Sheriffs Office, these people were coming from Bainbridge Georgia and going to Bell Glade Florida for work.

Power lines are down and Duke energy is on scene working. Reports say several poles and lines will need to be replaced. 

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WAKULLA, CO. FL (WTXL)-- According to Florida Highway Patrol, there is at least 5 people dead after an accident Saturday morning involving a bus and a semi truck.

FHP, is on scene investigating the incident that happened around 5 a.m. Saturday at the intersection of Woodville Highway and Highway 98. Reports say that it was a private bus involved and there are possibly more than 19 people being transported to local medical facilities.

Wakulla County Sheriff's Office is advising people to avoid the area and use Newport cut off road to access St. Marks. There is no drive through traffic allowed for the next six to eight hours.

We have a crew heading to the scene and will update as more information becomes available.