Bus carrying high school students to camp crashes, killing 2 and injuring others
WAWAYANDA, N.Y. — A charter bus carrying high school students to a band camp careened off a New York highway and tumbled down an embankment Thursday, killing two adults and seriously injuring several others, officials said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said a failure of a front tire could have contributed to the early afternoon accident on Interstate 84 in the town of Wawayanda, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) northwest of New York City.
The two adults who died were Beatrice Ferrari, 77, of Farmingdale and Gina Pellettiere, 43, of Massapequa. Five of the 44 passengers on board were critically injured. according to state police.
Hochul said the bus tumbled down a 50-foot ravine.
“Imagine the fear, the screams and the aftermath when these high school students, many of them freshmen, were surrounded by this chaos,” Hochul said at a news conference.
Student Anthony Eugenio called his family to say he was a little banged up, but OK. He recalled the bus rolling over several times before it came to a rest.
“He said he is really sore. He’s got a big bump on his leg. He’s got blood on his pants from somebody else. The person next to him was covered in blood,” his father, Jonathan Eugenio, told The Associated Press in a phone interview from near the upstate crash site.
Anthony had to borrow a friend’s phone because he could not find his, after the bus tumbled off the road.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” the worried father said. “When you get news like that and your son is two and half hours away — it’s pretty scary.”
News footage showed ripped-up grass on the embankment and the bus lying on its left side with its roof warped. A ladder allowed rescuers to reach the windows.
The bus was one of six in a caravan carrying students from Farmingdale High School on Long Island to a band camp in Greeley, in northeastern Pennsylvania, according to a message from the school district.
A September trip to band camp is an annual tradition at the suburban high school, which has around 1,700 students. Members of the marching band, color guard and the school’s kick line team attend, as well as adult chaperones. During some years, more than 300 students have gone on the trip to rehearse and have fun in rural Pennsylvania.
The bus crashed about 30 miles (48 kilometers) away from the Pine Forest Camp, where the students were headed.
Students on the other buses were to stop off at a community college for a break before heading back to Long Island’s Nassau County.
“Students will have the opportunity to stretch and meet with grief counselors,” according to a message from the district. “Once cleared, they will be returning to Farmingdale High School.”
Westchester Medical Center received three patients, said hospital spokesperson Andy LaGuardia, who could not provide conditions. Two other hospitals in the region received patients, LaGuardia said, but he did not have details.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman asked that people please “pray for the injured.”