(NewsNation) — Two adults were killed and several high school students hospitalized Thursday after a charter bus overturned and rolled down a 50-foot ravine along a New York highway, authorities said.
The crash occurred shortly after 1 p.m. along Interstate 84 in Orange County near the town of Wawayanda, New York State Police said at an evening news conference. The bus was carrying four adults and 40 students from Farmingdale High School in Long Island and was going to a band camp in Pennsylvania.
While an investigation is still underway, police believe a tire failure was a contributing factor in the crash. NewsNation affiliate WPIX captured chopper video showing a charter bus that appeared to have rolled into the median.
“There are families grieving today,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said at the news conference. She described it as a “day of terror” for those aboard the bus.
The deceased were identified as the high school’s band director, Gina Pellettiere, 43, of Massapequa, and a retired teacher Beatrice Ferrari, 77, of Farmingdale.
Several students were taken to six hospitals in the area, some in critical condition, police said.
State troopers and emergency workers were on the scene to help local crews, Hochul said.
Farmingdale student Anthony Eugenio, 15, was asleep on the bus when he felt a thud and awoke to what he thought was a dream or nightmare. The bus felt as if it was tipping. Then he felt himself tumbling — how many times he can’t recall — as he tried to pull his sweatshirt hood from over his eyes.
“Then everyone was yelling,” he said. “The kid next to me was covered in blood. I saw blood everywhere.”
He crawled out of the overturned bus through a window, dazed but only scraped and bruised. Once outside, he found his backpack, which had been thrown from the wreck, and his missing shoe.
News helicopter footage showed tire tracks on the roadway and a path of ripped-up grass and shrubs on the embankment. Hochul said the bus tumbled 50 feet down the steep slope in a wide median between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the highway. The bus came to rest on its left side, its roof warped. A ladder allowed rescuers to reach the windows.
A stretch of I-84 was closed while police conduct their investigation.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman asked that people pray for a “speedy recovery” for those injured.
“The only advice I can give to anybody tonight is to hug your children very tightly,” he said. “Life is very precious.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.