MEXICO CITY – A drunken driver lost control of his tractor-trailer and slammed into a bus carrying Canadians and Americans touring northern Mexico, killing 11, officials said Tuesday.
Seven Americans, three Canadians and the Mexican bus driver were killed, said Jose Angel Herrera, a federal homicide detective in northern Coahuila state.
The U.S. Embassy has confirmed the identities of four of the Americans, said embassy spokeswoman Liz Detter. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to all those killed and injured in this tragedy," Detter said.
Canadian foreign affairs spokesman Alain Cacchione said Canadians were involved in the crash but he declined to provide further details for privacy reasons.
The Canadian Press news agency identified the Canadians who died as Robert Lacas, 56, of Quebec, Carolyn Kowaleski, 68, of Caledonia, Ontario, and Marilyn Jackson, 67, of Vancouver.
Todd Huizinga, a spokesman for the U.S. consulate in the nearby city of Monterrey, said nine Americans were injured and that most were in stable condition.
Herrera said the tractor-trailer driver lost control, swerved onto the shoulder to his left, then overcompensated to the right and crashed into the bus coming from the opposite direction. Sixteen people were injured, many seriously.
Photos showed much of the side of the bus torn off.
Herrera said the truck driver, who was among those hurt, had been intoxicated and would be charged with involuntary homicide.
One of those killed was Ana Maria Bujanos, a middle-school reading teacher from Brownsville, Texas.
Her husband, Chris Bujanos, said a friend told him Tuesday morning after hearing his wife named as one of the victims on the radio, and a U.S. consulate representative called him to confirm her death.
"Tomorrow would have been our 33rd wedding anniversary, that's why I'm taking it so hard," Bujanos said.
Ana Maria Bujanos, 56, who taught at Cummings Middle School in Brownsville, was traveling to Zacatecas with another teacher from Harlingen during their spring break.
She had taken similar trips for years, her husband said. The bus picked them up in Harlingen on Monday morning and was scheduled to return Thursday evening, he said.
Relatives identified one of the other fatal victims as Bujanos' fellow teacher, Rebecca Pemelton of Harlingen.
The passengers were on a four-day tour of the Mexican cities of Zacatecas and Real de Catorce, according to a travel brochure from Viva Mexico Tours, which hired the bus. It was en route to Zacatecas on Monday when the accident occurred.
The owners of the McAllen, Texas, tour business, Tomas and Aida Gonzalez, were on their way back from visiting the injured in Mexican hospitals Tuesday, said Irma Gomez, who was asked by the owners to come in and answer phone calls.
"We're praying for the families," Gomez said.