Gatineau woman among 12 killed in Mexico bus crash

MONTREAL — A bus crash in eastern Mexico that claimed the lives of 12 people, including a Gatineau woman, has left families in two provinces in a state of shock.

The Canadian woman was identified by her family as Stephanie Horwood.

Carole Pommet Reinthaler told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that her daughter-in-law was in Mexico with her husband and their two daughters, aged nine and 11.

All three were injured.

Pommet Reinthaler said she was devastated when her son called to break the news of the tragedy.

“I still don’t believe she is dead,” she said. “It’s difficult to accept, but we have to no choice but to live with a pain like that.”

Pommet Reinthaler said her son will return to Ottawa with his two girls Thursday evening, but Horwood’s body will be transported to her family in Newfoundland-Labrador.

“Her father wants to see his daughter for a last time,” Pommet Reinthaler added.

She said there would be two funeral ceremonies: one in Horwood’s native St. John’s and the other in Gatineau.

Michelle Earle, who grew up with Horwood in St. John’s, said she has admired her friend for as long as she can remember.

“There’s honestly so much I can say about her but words would never do her justice,” Earle said. “She was an incredible person, full of life and love.”

Horwood was always proud of her roots and loved her family, husband and two daughters dearly, Earle said.

“She was the most genuine and loving person I’ve ever known.

“The world was sincerely better with her in it and I know I’m a better person having known her.”

Horwood would have turned 42 next week on Dec. 27.

Pommet Reinthaler said, “For us to have something like that happen, it’s almost incredible . . . that she died so young and in another country where she was going to have so much fun with her family.”

She said the tragedy has been very hard on her son.

“He’s all in pieces, he’s left alone with his two daughters, no mother any more … he just wants to come home,” Pommet Reinthaler said.

Global Affairs Canada confirmed that one Canadian was killed and three others were among the 20 injured in the incident.

The accident occurred when the bus carrying cruise ship passengers flipped over on a narrow highway in the state of Quintana Roo on Tuesday, Global Affairs said. The bus was headed toward Mayan ruins when the crash occurred.

“Consular officials in Ottawa and in Playa del Carmen, Mexico are in contact with affected Canadian citizens as well as family members and are providing consular assistance as required,” spokesman Philip Hannan said. “Due to privacy considerations, further details cannot be disclosed at this time.”

Mexican officials said eight Americans, two Swedes and one Mexican were the others killed in the crash.

The injured bus driver was taken into custody, the state government said.

Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises confirmed that 27 passengers from two of its cruise ships were on the bus at the time of the crash.

“Our hearts go out to all those involved in the bus accident,” company spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said in a statement. “We are doing all we can to care for our guests, including assisting with medical care and transportation.”

Some of the passengers injured in the crash were taken to local hospitals, while others were transported to the United States for treatment, Martinez said.

Video images from the scene show the bus on its side in vegetation off the two-lane highway. Some survivors could be seen lying on the pavement while others were able to walk.

Quintana Roo state authorities said 13 people remained in hospital.

Chris Brawley, of Haslet, Texas, was on one of the two cruise ships that had passengers on the crashed bus and was taking a different bus to the ruins. He said his bus passed by just minutes after the accident and he observed skid marks on the dry pavement.

Brawley said the ship he was sailing on, the Serenade of the Seas, sailed out of Mahahual Tuesday around 5:30 p.m., a couple hours after its scheduled departure. It was docked Wednesday up the coast in Cozumel.

“Captain informed us this morning one of our passengers passed overnight,” Brawley said.

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