Coach describes fatal crash with team bus

28-year-old driver of car died in wrong-way crash Tuesday morning

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A pitching coach for the minor league baseball team Elizabethton Twins says he saw what happened when a car crashed head-on into the team's bus Tuesday morning, killing the 28-year-old driver.

The team, affiliated with the Minnesota Twins, was training in Fort Myers and was heading back to Tennessee when at about 4:30 a.m., their charter bus was on Interstate 295 North of Pritchard Road in Jacksonville and the bus and a Honda Civic heading the wrong way collided.

Henry Bonilla, the team's pitching coach, was riding in the front seat of the bus and saw the headlights seconds before the crash.

"I actually thought I was seeing things. I was a little groggy. I hadn't slept," Bonilla said in a phone interview. "But I honestly thought I was seeing things. I was like, 'Those can't be headlights.' And the next thing I know they were literally maybe 15 feet in front of me."

The Florida Highway Patrol says the Civic was heading south in the left, northbound lane when both drivers swerved toward the grassy median and hit each other on the left side of both vehicles.

Bonilla said most of the players were sleeping, and the few who were awake were watching a movie.

IMAGES: FHP responds to wreck of car, charter bus

"Our driver Pete goes, 'Oh my God, guys, hold on, hold on,' and he yelled it out real quick and he swerved to the left," Bonilla said.

Bonilla made sure everyone on board was OK, and then he and a couple others jumped out to check on the other driver.

"Once I got to the car, I saw how bad the car was," he said. "I saw him sitting in the back and I knew he was gone, and I told my friends, I said, 'Look, it was an ugly scene.' I said, 'Just get away from the car. It's not something you want to look at.'"

Corshane Brown, a father and manager for Watson Realty, was killed in the crash.

Bonilla said the team is taking it pretty hard, but the players are grateful it wasn't any worse.

"That bus could have easily flipped over," Bonilla said. "Pete should be commended for the job he did."

The team's season starts Thursday.

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