(NEW YORK) — At least two adults died when a bus carrying high school students from Long Island, New York, crashed while heading to band camp in Pennsylvania, state police said.
Dozens were hurt in Thursday’s rollover accident in Orange County, which is about 60 miles north of New York City, officials said.
At least five children were in critical condition as of Thursday evening, according to a state police spokesman.
The bus, carrying students from Farmingdale High School, rolled over and slid off Interstate 84 down into a 50-foot ravine around 1:12 p.m., New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
The two adult passengers, identified as Beatrice Ferrara, 77, from Farmingdale, New York and Gina Pellettiere, 43, of Massapequa, were killed, state police officials said.
“There’s a lot of families that need some love tonight. And we extend that from 20 million New Yorkers,” the governor said.
Pellettiere was listed as the school’s Director of Bands on its website. She was the chairperson of the Nassau All-County Division 5 Symphonic Band for many years, as well as guest conductor for both Nassau and Suffolk All-County Festivals, according to the school’s website.
A faulty front tire was a factor in the crash, the governor and investigators said. The investigation is ongoing.
A total of 40 students and four adults were aboard the bus, according to the state police.
Hochul said that it took 45 minutes for first responders to get all of the victims out of the ravine.
“These high school students, many of them freshmen, were surrounded by this chaos, but they endured. They were strong,” she said.
Farmingdale School District officials were at the scene, the district said.
Five other buses from the school that were traveling to the camp returned to Farmingdale, but made a stop on the way to give students the chance to meet with grief counselors, the district said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to investigate the crash. The NTSB investigators are slated to arrive Friday, the agency said.
Donna Baltch, a Farmingdale resident, told WABC that her niece was on one of the buses that returned back. Baltch is also the parent of a Farmingdale High School 10th grader, said she and other parents spent the afternoon trying to figure out what happened and support each other.
“These poor kids, these kids are going to be traumatized for the rest of their lives,” Baltch told WABC. “All the families, we always, always come together for each other. I don’t care if it’s 3 o’clock in the morning, I will be there for these kids.”
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