A Virginia woman and her son were killed after a bus carrying cruise ship passengers on an excursion to Mayan ruins in southeastern Mexico flipped over on a narrow highway, a family member told News4.
Anna Behar, of Lorton, Virginia, and her 11-year-old son, Daniel, died in Tuesday's crash, a family member said. Her husband, Moises Behar, and 15-year-old son, David, were injured.
The boys' grandmother, Fanya Shamis, a 78-year-old resident of Coconut Creek, Florida, was also killed in the crash, News4 has learned.
Neighbors in Lorton remembered the family fondly. Neighbors told News4 that they loved Fanya Shamis fondly from her occasional visits. Anna Behar was described as an adventurous, determined woman.
“Anna has a bigger than life personality," neighbor Phyllis Martin said. "She set her mind to do something, boy, did she do it.”
Eleven passengers and their guide were killed in the crash, according to a statement from the Quintana Roo state secretary of tourism's office released Wednesday. Thirteen people were injured, including the bus driver, who was in custody, according to the statement.
A Mexican state prosecutor said the driver's negligence and excess speed caused the crash, the Associated Press reported.
The passengers involved in the crash were guests on the Royal Caribbean cruise ships Celebrity Equinox and Serenade of the Seas.
Chris Brawley, a passenger on the Serenade of Seas, was on a bus headed to the same Mayan ruins when they came on the scene minutes after the accident.
It was shortly after 9 a.m. and a convoy of buses from the cruise port at Mahahual was headed to Chacchoben, he said. They had been on the road for about 35 to 40 minutes before the accident.
Brawly said the sky was clear and the road was dry and he didn't see any sign of any other vehicle being involved in the crash, which happened on a narrow, two-lane road with no shoulder or guardrail.
He said he did not see the crash, but "the bus clearly lost control somehow as there were swerve marks all over the road surface."
Video images from the scene of the crash showed the bus on its side in vegetation off the two-lane highway, with some survivors lying on the pavement while others walked around.
Martin said the crash occurred as the bus was on its way to the ruins at Chacchoben, about 110 miles south of Tulum.
"This is heartbreaking news and we're doing all we can to care for our guests," Celebrity Equinox Capt. Dimitrios Manetas said during a ship announcement for passengers. "We think it is also important for us – for all of us – here on the ship to look out for each other and be extra caring and considerate."
The cause of the accident was under investigation.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said news of the deadly incident is "heartbreaking."
"Our hearts go out to all those involved. We are doing all we can to care for our guests, including assisting with medical care and transportation," the company wrote on Twitter. "Our 27 guests were on a bus tour to the Chacchoben Ruins. We are working with the local authorities to learn more about the accident. We are doing all we can to help our guests."
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico said any U.S. citizen affected by the incident may reach out to its Consular Service Center in Monterrey at +52-81-8047-3145.
"We express our condolences to all those affected. We are working with local authorities to determine if there were U.S. citizens on board," the agency wrote on Twitter. "The protection of U.S. citizens overseas is one of the highest priorities for [the State Department]."