One person is confirmed dead and at least five are in a critical condition after a charter bus carrying school students to band camp toppled off an embankment in upstate New York.
Forty-five people are thought to have been on the bus and most have been injured.
The bus reportedly overturned just before 1.30pm, ten miles from the nearest exit on the two-lane highway close to the Orange County town of Wawayanda.
It was leading a convoy of six buses carrying 300 students, mainly ninth graders, from Farmingdale High School in Nassau County to the marching band camp music event at Pine Forest in Greeley, Pennsylvania, ABC7 reported.
The bus appears to have left the busy roadway about 75 miles north-west of New York City and toppled down an embankment before coming to a rest on its side in a heavily wooded area.
Rescue workers are scrambling to save the injured people on board
Route 84 westbound is closed at Exit 15 as first responders head to the scene
‘We were informed that there had been an accident with Bus 1 on route to Greeley, PA for band camp,’ Farmingdale School District said in a statement
‘Police and emergency responders on on the scene, as well as district administration. We will provide another update when more information becomes available. We ask for your patience as we gather more details.’
Five people were hospitalized in critical condition, said Steven M Neuhaus, the county executive of Orange County.
A spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said that multiple law enforcement, emergency responders, and fire agencies had responded to the scene, which she described as the site of an ‘active investigation.’
The injured were taken to Westchester County Medical Center or Garnet Health Medical Center in Wallkill, with two Medivac helicopters assisting in the rescue effort.
‘How are they going to recover from this?’ one parent told Fox29.
‘Please don’t let anybody be gone. These are my babies. They think they’re big and tough, but they’re babies.’
The bus carried the logo of the Regency Luxury Charter Bus Company from Smithtown, New York, and was about 100 miles into its journey to the annual four-day camp.
‘We thought it was a joke,’ said a student whose friend had been flown from the crash site.
‘We didn’t think it was this serious. It’s horrible.’
Ladders were lifted to the toppled bus in a bid to reach passengers
Helicopters pictured the scale of the effort to rescue the injured children
Dozens of rescue vehicles were on the scene within minutes of the accident
Rescue workers were seen combing the thick undergrowth and wooded area next to the bus.
New York State Police said Route 84 westbound was closed at Exit 15 as the investigation continues, and traffic has been halted in both directions.
A spokesperson for SUNY Orange said the college’s physical education center will be used as a family information and reunification center.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman arranged a police escort for families of the affected students.
Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano said the other buses in the convoy are heading back to Nassau County.
‘I’m very shaken up,’ one student told CBS outside he school, ‘before they left I saw my friends and told them to have fun.’
‘When people started to find out kids started to tell their teachers,’ added another. ‘They opened up the auditorium and people were hugging and crying and everyone looked distraught.’
Hundreds of student join the marching band, color guard, and dalerettes on their annual trip to Pine Forest Camp in Greeley, PA.
The camp allows student musicians to practice their performances at football games
The tumbling bus crushed trees and bushes as it fell down the slope
Rescuers are using ropes to navigate the steep slope down to where the bus lay
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she had been briefed on the tragedy:
‘At my direction, personnel from the New York State Police and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services are onsite to assist local emergency response teams,’ she added.
‘We are grateful for the first responders whose speedy action saved lives and we will continue to support them however necessary. Our hearts are with all who are impacted by this horrific situation.’
This is a breaking news story.