JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two women are dead after a head-on crash early Monday morning with an out-of-service Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus, authorities said.
A Florida Highway Patrol preliminary report said an SUV was traveling the wrong way in westbound lanes of the Hart Bridge about 12:20 a.m. when it hit an eastbound JTA bus near Gator Bowl Boulevard.
The two Jacksonville women in the SUV, ages 26 and 28, were critically injured. The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department took them to a hospital, where they died.
The crash report shows neither woman was wearing a seatbelt. The driver of the JTA bus, a 56-year-old man, was not injured. There were no passengers on the bus.
The JTA said the bus was returning to the Myrtle Avenue operations facility after the driver finished his route for the day.
“We are devastated by this precious loss of life,” JTA CEO Nathaniel Ford said. “Please join me in keeping these people and their loved ones in our thoughts as we process what happened early this morning.”
Troopers did not say if alcohol or impairment was a factor in the crash. The JTA said it will conduct its own internal investigation.
The News4Jax I-TEAM is asking questions surrounding the construction of the entrance and exit ramps at the Hart Bridge and why there are no warning signs saying wrong way.
Even though it’s a Department of Transportation bridge, the construction is a city of Jacksonville project.
So far, there has been no comment from the city or the contractor on the project.
We also asked News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson, a former officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, about the safety of the construction site setup.
“I think it’s very confusing. There are no last-minute signs to direct people. I could see how people can misconstrue the exit ramp for the on-ramp because it has nothing prior to turning into that ramp that tells you you are going the wrong way. There are no signs like you see on highway ramps that say wrong way,” Jefferson said.
While traffic cones and construction crews along the bridge can make for some confusing choices with lane changes, right now, no one is saying if those are related to Monday morning’s accident.