Two people died and dozens were injured, with at least five critically injured, when a bus carrying a high school marching band from Long Island crashed on a New York freeway and ran aground Thursday afternoon, officials said. None of the dead were students.
According to a spokeswoman for the Farmingdale School District, the bus carrying 40 students, mostly high school freshmen, and four seniors from Farmingdale High School was one of six coach buses en route to the annual marching band camp in Pennsylvania.
The bus went off the road on a stretch of I-84 in the Orange County town of Wawayanda, about 76 miles north of New York City. It plunged down a 50-foot ravine, New York Gov. Cathy Hochul said during a press conference Thursday evening.
“Today was a terrible day for the 44 passengers,” Ms Hochul said, adding that a faulty front tire may have contributed to the crash, but an investigation was ongoing. “Imagine the panic, the screams, as the high school students, many of them freshmen, were surrounded by chaos. But they endured.
The dead have been identified as Gina Pelletier, 43, and Beatrice Ferrari, 77. On the school district website As director of marching band and wind ensemble. Ms. Ferrari’s connection to the school was not immediately clear, but the superintendent of schools noted in a letter Thursday night that “our marching band is the heart and soul of the program.”
“It is difficult to express the sadness and grief that the Farmingdale School District and I feel regarding the tragic events that have taken place in the past and the terrible experience our students have had,” Superintendent of Schools Paul Defentini wrote.
Five people were hospitalized in critical condition, said Orange County County Administrator Steven M. Neuhaus said. It was not immediately clear if any of the two surviving adults were among them.
After the crash, the blue-and-white bus flipped completely onto its side, shattering its windshield. Photos and video footage from the scene showed emergency workers perched on ladders against the bus during the rescue operation.
New York State Department of Transportation spokesman Joe Morrissey said the bus was operated by Regency Transportation of Nesconset, N.Y. The driver had a valid license and the bus had passed its most recent inspection, he said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this terrible accident and their families,” he said. “As this matter remains under law enforcement investigation, we are not in a position to comment further at this time.”
The marching band was on its way to Pine Forest Camp in Greeley. The school is one of several organizations that rent out the camp’s facilities each year.
“Our hearts go out to the families affected by this terrible accident,” a spokesman for the camp said. “The Farmingdale High School Band has been a wonderful and welcoming group that has rented our camp over the years.”
Accident happened At the beginning of the band’s season And just before Farmingdale School District’s Spirit Week, which is scheduled for October 2 through October 6 and includes the homecoming football game. In addition to high school football games, the marching band, more than 300 participants, Performed at Newsday Marching Band FestivalPlayoff games at Hofstra University, Shea Stadium and local parades.
School will open on Friday, Mr. Defendini wrote in the letter that the school community will have counselors and support staff. “The best thing we can do is hug and make sure everyone in this community has the support they need,” she wrote.
Amelia Nierenberg Contributed report. Shelock McNeil Research contributed.
“Total coffee junkie. Tv ninja. Unapologetic problem solver. Beer expert.”