In a tragic incident in Orange County, New York, a charter bus carrying high school students to a band camp in Pennsylvania overturned, resulting in two fatalities and 42 injuries on Thursday afternoon.
The bus, one of six transporting students from Farmingdale High School, veered off Interstate 84 near Middletown around 1:12 p.m., according to local law enforcement. The students were en route to a band camp in Greeley, Pennsylvania. The bus was carrying 40 students and four adults at the time of the accident.
Among the injured, five students were critically wounded and are currently receiving medical attention. The two fatalities were identified as Gina Pellettiere, 43, the high school’s band director, and Beatrice Ferrari, 77, a retired teacher. Both were residents of Farmingdale.
Preliminary investigations suggest that a faulty front tire might have played a role in the accident, according to Governor Kathy Hochul. However, she emphasized that the investigation is ongoing. Aerial footage showed the bus lying on its side off the road, amidst trees and shrubs in the highway median.
One of the students, 15-year-old Anthony Eugenio, recounted his terrifying experience. He was asleep when he felt the bus tip over and woke up to a scene of chaos and bloodshed. Despite being dazed, he managed to crawl out of the overturned bus through a window.
The National Transportation Safety Board is dispatching a team to investigate the crash, as announced by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. Governor Hochul has also directed the Division of Homeland Security to assist local authorities in the investigation.
Injured students were transported to a reunification center at the SUNY Orange campus in Middletown to meet their parents. The students from the other five buses returned safely to Farmingdale High School.
Bruce Blakeman, the executive of Nassau County, expressed his condolences to the families affected by the tragedy. He said, “Our hearts go out to all of the families of Farmingdale High School.”