"When they took us into the sugar cane field, I thought we were all going to die," said Washington businessman Paul Schaeffer, telling about the night of terror that followed the ambush of a bus carrying vacationers on the Caribbean Island of Jamaica.

Schaeffer said he and his girlfriend Lori Eiseman were among 11 persons, most of them from the Washington-Baltimore area, who were on the bus early Monday when it was halted by four robbers about 25 miles from the airport. A man with a gun jumped aboard and shot and killed the driver.

Schaeffer and Eiseman were in the front seat. The fatal bullet passed through the driver's body and then "went completely through {Eiseman's} arm," Schaeffer said last night.

The robbers threw the driver's body from the bus and then drove the bus into a cane field, where they seized passengers' valuables at gunpoint. One of them grabbed the bracelets from Eiseman's arm as blood continued to spurt from her wound, Schaeffer said.

Apparently unsatisfied with their loot, Schaeffer said, the robbers threatened that they would "start killing people" if they did not get more. "I thought we were going to die," he said.

Finally, he said, a backfire appeared to frighten the robbers, who fled. Schaeffer said he took the wheel of the bus and drove it to safety.

Jamaican officials called the incident isolated and said the effort to find the assailants was being handled at the highest levels of government.

Kent LaCrois, Jamaica's assistant director of tourism, said he has been attending to the comfort of the tourists.

"They just want to sit back and enjoy the rest of their vacation," he said.

According to a police spokesman, the robbers used a car to block the coastal highway leading from the Montego Bay airport to the resort area of Negril, about 80 miles northwest of Kingston. Police identified the slain driver as Radcliffe Scott.

Mark Klugman, a Washington Times reporter who was vacationing in Jamaica and was a passenger on the bus, reported that one gunman held a cocked pistol to the head of Marla Streb, 22, of Towson, Md.

Eiseman was treated at a hospital in Montego Bay and released. She and Schaeffer, who said he lives on Q Street NW and is a partner in a firm that owns several clothing stores in the Washington-Baltimore area, returned to the area yesterday.

Kathy Eiseman, Lori Eiseman's sister, said the shooting victim, who lives in Baltimore County, appeared weak and drained but in good spirits on arrival. She was listed in stable condition last night at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore.

The remaining passengers decided to continue their vacations at the request of tourism officials who offered to pay for the rest of their trip and asked that they return for a free visit.

"It's an isolated incident," said LaCrois. "We are sorry that it happened. The more publicity that we get for this, the more difficult it is to continue what we are doing," he said, alluding to Jamaica's booming tourist industry. The island attracted 700,000 Americans last year, he said.