UPDATED (12/10) | Two cruise ship vacationers from the United States were killed Sunday morning in Tortola after a tour bus carrying 20 passengers crashed on a steep, winding road that links Road Town and popular Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands authorities said.
The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and cruise ship officials said the one-vehicle accident injured 18 other passengers from a Celebrity Summit ship, two critically.
An RVIPF spokeswoman said Wednesday that Mary Kettner, 67, of Wisconsin and Dana Husereau, 53, of Connecticut “died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision” after their identities leaked through social media. The driver was uninjured and not identified by police.
The bus apparently struck an embankment on a steep downhill descent into Cane Garden Bay at 11:15 a.m., according to a preliminary investigation.
A statement by Celebrity Cruises, which is part of Royal Caribbean Cruises, said the bus trip to a popular beach on the Atlantic side of the Virgin Islands was not organized by Celebrity.
"The bus was independently operated, and not part of any Celebrity-sponsored shore excursion," Celebrity said in a statement. "We will refer questions about the accident and its investigation to local authorities.
Virgin Islands Premier Dr. Orlando Smith was out of the country. According to his office, “First responders, including the [police], Fire and Rescue Department, and medical personnel were mobilised, along with members of the BVI Tourist Board, and cruise ship personnel from the Celebrity Summit cruise line, to provide assistance to the visitors involved."
Acting Premier and health minister Ronnie Skelton released a statement.
"Our law enforcement officers are determined to ascertain the cause of the accident, and resulting from their investigation, the Government of the Virgin Islands will do all that is possible to ensure safety on our roads for our people and our visitors to our beautiful Virgin Islands," Mr. Skelton said.
According to police, “Fourteen of the passengers taken to Peebles Hospital following [Sunday] morning’s tour bus collision were released and — except the families of the deceased and injured — all reboarded the cruise ship which has since left the territory.”
Miami-based Celebrity said, “Our ship’s captain and other have gone to [Peebles Hospital in Road Town] to help respond to this terrible incident.”
"Local officials tell us that there were 20 passengers on the bus,” Celebrity said. “In addition to the two fatalities, officials have told us there were also two critical injuries. Several of the injured guests have been treated and released, and will rejoin the ship shortly.”
Cane Garden Bay is a top destination in the Virgin Islands, especially for passengers on cruise ships that regularly dock in Road Town. A trip from port to Cane Garden Bay’s beaches is roughly 13 miles across steep terrain. On Sunday wet conditions were reported.
The Celebrity Summit was anchored in Tortola as part of a seven-night cruise that departed San Juan on Saturday.
The quality of roads in the BVI is a territory-wide issue. In 2010, an excursion bus carrying Princess cruise passengers crashed in Tortola, killing one man.
» Photos: Cane Garden Bay by Daily Fray
Hasta la vista