By James Buechele
May 1, 2013
Tallahassee, FL - "I'm just shook up about it still," said Alex Houghtaling who was on the charter bus that was involved in an early morning accident on I-10.
43 students and teachers on a charter bus headed to Naples after an academic competition in Pensacola. About 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, FHP says a car driven by Abby Fishburn, 22, was headed west on the eastbound lanes of I-10.
FHP says Fishburn drove head on into the charter bus. Both vehicles caught fire. She died at the scene.
"I got slammed into the back of the seat and I looked up I saw flames and all this and everybody was screaming."
FHP says about 17 people were taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. All of them were riding the bus when the accident happened.
Fishburn was a first year teacher at Deerlake Middle School teaching science to sixth and seventh graders.
Principal Shane Syfrett announced the news to the entire school today and says his new colleague was born to be a teacher.
"She's very creative, excited teacher I mean I think she had a very bright future in front of her as far as teaching," said Syfrett. "She loved it."
Statement from Dolphin Transportation:
On May 1st, at 3:30 a.m. central time, a motorcoach operated by Dolphin Transportation Company of Napes, Florida was involved in an accident on Interstate 10 in the eastbound lanes in Tallahassee, Florida.
Dolphin Transportation Company is fully cooperating with the Florida Highway Patrol and other agencies. According to the Florida Highway Patrol the driver of a car was driving in the wrong direction when the vehicle struck the motorcoach. Dolphin Transportation wishes to express its sympathy to the family of the driver who died in the accident.
As many as 50 people were on the motorcoach and 17 people including the driver sustained injuries. The driver is the most seriously hurt and he will require surgery later today to repair a broken foot. The others have been treated and released from Tallahassee area hospitals.
Dolphin Transportation was returning students home to Collier County from Pensacola after competing at a USA Skills Competition. We are working with the Collier County School District and families to make sure all of the students are returned home safely.
Dolphin Transportation has been in operation in southwestern Florida since 2001 and our company puts the safe operation of our motorcoaches as its top priority. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates, inspects and rates motorcoach companies on a regular basis and Dolphin received a ‘Satisfactory’ rating, which is the highest of the three. Dolphin Transportation also has Department of Defense approval to transport military personnel. Obtaining certification requires an extensive safety inspection and review process by outside inspectors.
Dolphin Transportation would like to express its gratitude to the following organizations that assisted our passengers to make sure they were safe and well during this accident.
• Leon County Fire Rescue, Leon County EMS, Leon County Sheriff’s Office
• Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Dept. of Transportation, Tallahassee Police Dept.
• Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, Mike’s Limousine Service, Lake Jackson Towing Company
According to Chris Petley, Leon County Schools:
Abby Fishburn, the Lakeland woman who died in a fatal crash with a bus this morning was a teacher at Deerlake Middle School.
Fishburn was a first-year 6th & 7th grade science teacher according to the Deerlake website.
The school is offering grief counseling for students and staff.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol:
At approximately 3:22 a.m., Abby Meredith Fishburn, 22, of Lakeland, Fla., was driving westbound in the eastbound outside lane of I-10 in a 1997 Ford Taurus.
John Brutus, 42, of Naples, Fla. was driving eastbound in the eastbound outside lane of I-10, carrying 43 passengers in an MCI Bus, when Fishburn's Taurus struck the bus head on.
The vehicles came to final rest in the safety zone at the 199 exit ramp, and they were partially blocking the eastbound outside lane.
Tallahassee Fire Department, Leon County EMS, Tallahassee Police Department, Florida Department of Transportation, and Leon County Sherriff's Department assisted on scene.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol:
Tallahassee, Fla. -- There has been a fatality in Leon County on the I-10 Eastbound near the Monroe Street Exit (199).
Florida Highway Patrol arrived on the scene around 3:30 a.m.
FHP says the eastbound exit ramp and two lanes on I-10 are blocked, but the inside lane is open at this time.
We have a reporter headed to the scene. We will keep you updated as information becomes available.