• Jacksonville family says it was supposed to be on bus that crashed in Mexico

    By: Kaitlyn Chana , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Members of a Jacksonville family said they were grateful to celebrate Christmas after they were supposed to be on a tour bus that was involved in a deadly crash in Mexico.

    A dozen people were killed in the Dec. 19 crash, which occurred during an excursion to the Mayan ruins.

    The Whitten family is now joining together after its brush with the horrifying experience. 

    Members of the family said they were supposed to be on the doomed No. 14 bus. 

    Their tickets show they were supposed to meet at 8:45 that morning, as fate would have it, they were running a few minutes late and the bus was one seat short to accomodate them. 

    “All of the seats were taken up except for four. Because we have a family of five, we couldn’t fit on the bus, so we had to get on the bus behind. The four seats that were taken were the ones that had died. It was in the front of the bus. So, that could have been us,” Michelle Whitten said.

    Michelle Whitten said her family saw the aftermath as their bus passed the overturned one. The images still bring them anxiety, she said. 

    “They just had bodies lying on the ground. Blood all over – one head was decapitated. People’s arms were behind their backs when people were pulling them off the bus. Blood was everywhere,” John Whitten said.

    Investigators say the driver’s negligence and excessive speed caused the crash. Three Floridians were among the dead.

    “My heart reaches out to all of them. I know that that’s not enough. I know probably they are angry – tears,” John Whitten said.

    A family vacation turned into a heartbreaking reality – and the realization that life is never promised to us. 

    “We are so lucky to be here. That could have been me on that bus – it was supposed to be me,” John Whitten said.

    They say it’s important to always end your day by hugging your loved ones. 

    A Whitten family friend said she was relieved once the family was able to make a call to confirm it was all right. 

    Officials said the driver of the bus is in custody.

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