On Sept. 14 at approximately 9:30 p.m. the Downtown Shark Shuttle broke down on the side of Interstate 595. The bus filled with smoke and the six students on the shuttle were evacuated shortly before the bus was engulfed in flames. No students or staff members were injured according to the fire department, but there is still an ongoing investigation to determine the cause of the fire.
According to Paige Allen, a freshman art and design major who was on the bus, there was a loud pop as they entered the highway and the driver pulled over to investigate.
“It sounded like a tire blew out,” said Isaiah Weber, a freshman biology major who was also on the shuttle.
Students stayed inside the bus while the driver and his partner investigated the problem. The shuttle started to fill with smoke and foul odors from the front of the vehicle when the bus driver instructed students to evacuate. Passengers exited through the front door of the bus and backed away from the rear of the vehicle. The driver and his partner used the fire extinguisher equipped with the vehicle to attempt to put out the flames that started to course from the engine.
“That small fire grew bigger and engulfed the whole bus. One police officer spotted us and called for backup and they blocked off our side of the lane,” said Allen.
“After a while, it became like an inferno and the windows of the bus shattered outward due to the flames,” said Blake Lind, freshman biology major.
The Davie Fire Rescue Department and paramedics responded to the incident and to the passengers involved. All those involved were checked out by paramedics and deemed uninjured.
“The fire occurred on the turnpike ramp side of the 595 split. When we arrived we found one of the NSU Shark Shuttle buses pulled over on the side of the road on 595 and the entire passenger compartment and cab of the bus were fully engulfed in flames,” said Colby Hooper, Captain with the Davie Fire Rescue Department.
Hooper and his crew credit the driver and his partner with ensuring the safety of the passengers in this incident as it allowed his team to get to work quickly.
“We were able to successfully put out the fire without any injuries or fatalities which is always our main goal,” said Hooper.
During the extinguishment, this portion of the road was completely shut down with the help of highway patrol and police officers to ensure the safety of the firefighters and other vehicles. However, during the extinguishment on the main line of 595, there was a secondary multiple car accident due to onlookers. An onlooker who slowed down on the main highway lane was struck by another vehicle which caused a cascade effect with multiple vehicles involved.
“We did have minor injuries there. This was a secondary incident we had to respond to as well as the Shark Shuttle,” said Hooper.
The Davie Fire Department stressed that drivers should slow down and move over for emergency vehicles and emergency-related incidents similar to this, to prevent incidents like the secondary onlooker accident that occured.
“We sure don’t want people rubbernecking to be involved in accidents so always be aware of your surroundings,” said Hooper.
Students were picked up by another Shark Shuttle and transported back to campus. Three students, however, concerned about smoke inhalation caused by the accident, went to a local hospital to get checked out. These students were unable to be contacted, but sources have stated there are no injuries in the report.
Currently, the vehicle is under investigation by the insurance company to determine the cause of the accident. At this time, there is no further information on what caused the fire. According to Daniel Alfonso, V.P of facilities management, all other operational Shark Shuttles were thoroughly inspected to ensure that they were all running properly since the accident.