Two died and dozens of others were injured, at least five critically, after a bus carrying a high school marching band from Long Island crashed on a New York highway and went down an embankment on Thursday afternoon, the authorities said. None of the students were among the dead.
The bus, carrying 40 students, mostly high school freshmen, and four adults from Farmingdale High School was one of six coach buses traveling to an annual marching band camp in Pennsylvania, according to a spokeswoman for the Farmingdale School District.
The bus went off the road on a section of I-84 in the town of Wawayanda, in Orange County, which is about 76 miles north of New York City. It tumbled down a 50-foot ravine, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said during a press briefing on Thursday evening.
“Today was a day of terror for 44 passengers,” Ms. Hochul said, adding that a faulty front tire had likely contributed to the accident but that an investigation was ongoing. “Imagine the fear, the screams in the aftermath when high school students, many of them freshmen, were surrounded by the chaos. But they endured.”
The dead were identified as Gina Pellettiere, 43, and Beatrice Ferrari, 77. Ms. Pellettiere was listed on the school district’s website as the director of the marching band and wind ensemble. Ms. Ferrari’s affiliation with the school was not immediately clear, but the superintendent of schools referred to her in a letter on Thursday night as the “heart and soul of our marching band program.”
“It is difficult to express the sadness and grief that the Farmingdale School District and I feel over the tragic events that unfolded earlier and the horrific experience our students endured,” the superintendent of schools, Paul Defendini, wrote.
Five people were hospitalized in critical condition, said Steven M. Neuhaus, the county executive of Orange County. It was not immediately clear whether either of the two surviving adults were among them.
The blue and white bus was completely turned on its side on the embankment after the crash, its windows smashed. Emergency workers rested a ladder up against the bus during the rescue effort, photos and video footage from the scene showed.
Joe Morrissey, a spokesman with the New York State Department of Transportation, said that the bus was operated by Regency Transportation of Nesconset, N.Y. The driver was properly licensed and the bus had passed its most recent inspection, he said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this terrible crash 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, Pa. The school is one of many organizations that rents out the camp’s facilities each year.
“Our hearts go out to the families affected by this terrible accident,” a spokesperson for the camp said. “Farmingdale High School Band has been a wonderful and welcomed group that has rented our camp for many years.”
The crash came at the beginning of the band’s season and shortly before the Farmingdale School District’s Spirit Weekwhich is scheduled for Oct. 2 through Oct. 6 and includes a homecoming football game. In addition to high school football games, the marching band, which has more than 300 participants, has performed at the Newsday Marching Band Festivalplayoff games at Hofstra University, Shea Stadium, and local parades.
School will be open on Friday, Mr. Defendini wrote in the letter, adding that counselors and support staff will be available to the school community. “The best thing we can do is to give hugs and make sure each and every person in this community has the support they need,” he wrote.
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