Investigators continued to search Friday for the wreckage of the bus that veered off a New York highway and overturned the day before, killing two people and injuring dozens of others while en route to Pennsylvania carrying a Long Island High School marching band. Ta.
Gov. Cathy Hochul said Thursday that a defective front tire appears to have caused the bus to run off the road, but investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board, New York State Police and Orange County, New York Sheriff’s Office was conducting an investigation. Officials said they will determine whether other factors may have been involved. At a news conference Friday afternoon, NTSB investigator Jon Hamm said it was too early to determine the cause of the incident, but said several people were removed from the bus. Hum said the team is expected to be on site for five to seven days.
Gina Pelletiere, one of two people killed in the crash, suffered head and torso injuries when her bus plunged into a 50-foot ravine along Interstate 84 in the town of Wawayanda, authorities said. I suffered a loss. Beatrice Ferrari, the second person to die in the crash, died while being taken to a hospital, officials said.
Mr. Pelletiere, 43, and Mr. Ferrari, 77, were among four adults and 40 students from Farmingdale High School who were on one of six buses the marching band takes to the Pennsylvania camp each year. It was one of the names. Ms. Pelletiere was the band’s beloved director. Mr. Ferrari was a volunteer chaperone.
At least five people, including several students, were seriously injured. One of the new students was released to his parents Friday morning after having sutures and staples to his head and body, Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said.
Another female freshman student with a fractured spine was taken from Westchester Medical Center to Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, Long Island, Ekstrand said. Officials said nearly 20 other people, most of them students, were still being treated at other hospitals.
Hum said his team plans to interview all the victims, including the bus driver.
Naomi Luke, 14, a freshman at Farmingdale High School, was FaceTiming her best friend, who was on the bus with her bandmates, when she heard the screeching of tires.
Naomi’s mother Carolina said in an interview that the images on her phone had been rotated. When she saw her friend’s face appear on the screen again, she was covered in blood. Luke said the girl suffered a broken nose and cuts to her tongue and lip.
Santino Talavera, 17, a trumpet player and a senior at Farmingdale High School, was on the bus behind the bus that crashed, causing the bus to shake to a halt. Immediately the students stood up, craned their necks, and began to look out the window.
“I got up and saw the bus literally lying on its side in the ditch,” he said. “It felt like a dream.”
The people on his bus became very quiet as they realized what had happened. “We were just speechless,” he said.
Santino said the bus remained parked on the side of the highway for about two hours while emergency personnel responded to the scene. He watched people on stretchers drive past outside the window.
Classes were in session at the high school Friday, but a football game scheduled for the evening was canceled, as were other after-school competitions scheduled for the weekend.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said at a news conference that counselors will be available until at least next week.
Nassau County Councilwoman Rose Walker, whose district includes Farmingdale, said at a news conference that the accident was “personal” to her.
“I know a lot of these kids and staff,” Walker said. “Whenever we do something together, I say they’re all my kids, even though they don’t live in my house.”
Walker said she has known band director Pelletiere since elementary school. Walker said Pelletiere “loved music” and majored in drums in high school.
“It was a dream to further advance her career, and she accomplished that. She became the band director at Farmingdale High School,” Ms. Walker said.
Luke, who was Pelletiere’s classmate at Hicksville High School decades ago, said she played “every instrument” and was known for her sense of style.
She said she spent Friday morning looking at Mr. Pelletiere’s photo in her high school yearbook. “She was the light of the classroom,” Luke said.
Sarah Maslin Nir and Ellen Yang Contributed to the report. Kirsten Noyes contributed to research.