Atlanta-bound bus involved in fatal Florida crash

An Atlanta-bound Greyhound bus was involved in a fatal, five-vehicle crash near the Florida-Georgia border, a spokeswoman with the Florida Highway Patrol said.

The crash occurred about 11:44 p.m. Friday in the northbound lanes of I-75 in Hamilton County, Fla., shortly after authorities received a call about a wrong-way driver in a 1993 Buick Century, Sgt. Tracy Pace said in a media release.

The Greyhound bus was in the center lane and the SUV was next to it in the left lane. The wrong-way driver, identified as 91-year-old Ernest Lee Holmes of High Springs, Fla., struck a 2013 Ford Expedition driven by 55-year-old Peter J. Linek of Ormond Beach, Fla. Holmes and Linek died, Pace said. There were no passengers in the vehicles driven by the men.

The bus and two other vehicles behind the bus swerved to avoid the head-on collision, Pace said.

"In all that action and moving around," she said, "vehicles were striking other vehicles or they were getting struck by debris. To be honest, it was a mess."

Thirteen of the 42 bus passengers were taken to local hospitals, she said. All had minor injuries. The bus driver, 62-year-old Alvis A. Gaston of Locust Grove, was not injured, Pace said.

There were five children between the ages of 3 and 11 in one of the vehicles involved in the secondary collisions, she said. No one was injured.

It is unknown if alcohol was a contributing factor in the crash, Pace said. Gaston and the drivers of the two other vehicles all "consented to a voluntary blood draw at the scene," she said.

A replacement driver left Jacksonville, Fla., at 2:45 a.m. Saturday to pick up the uninjured bus passengers, a Greyhound official told Channel 2 Action News. The bus pulled into Atlanta just before 11:30 a.m. Saturday, the television station reported.