School bus col­lides with truck, killing teacher and stu­dent

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - NEWS - By Seth Wenig and Michael R. Sisak

MOUNT OLIVE, N.J. » A school bus tak­ing chil­dren on a field trip to a New Jer­sey historic site col­lided with a dump truck Thurs­day, rip­ping the bus apart and killing a teacher and stu­dent, of­fi­cials said.

The crash left the bus ly­ing on its side on the guardrail of In­ter­state 80 in Mount Olive, its un­der­car­riage and front end sheared off and its steer­ing wheel ex­posed. Some of the vic­tims crawled out of the emer­gency exit in the back of the bus and an es­cape hatch on the roof. More than 40 peo­ple were taken to area hos­pi­tals. “I heard a scrap­ing sound and we top­pled over the high­way,” said stu­dent Theo Ancevski, who was sit­ting in the fourth row of the bus and was treated at a hos­pi­tal for cuts and scrapes. “A lot of peo­ple were scream­ing and hang­ing from their seat­belts.”

Demo­cratic New Jer­sey Gov. Phil Mur­phy said that one adult and one stu­dent were killed in the crash. Mur­phy said the driver of the truck was alive and at the hos­pi­tal, but of­fi­cials didn’t reveal his con­di­tion.

The front end of the red dump truck was man­gled in the wreck, which took place about 50 miles (80 kilo­me­ters) west of New York. The truck was regis­tered to Men­dez Truck­ing, of Belleville, and had “In God We Trust” em­bla­zoned on the back of it.

“It’s a hor­rific scene,” Mount Olive Mayor Rob Green­baum told The Record.

The Para­mus school sys­tem said that the bus was tak­ing stu­dents from East Brook Mid­dle School to Water­loo Vil­lage, about five miles from the crash scene. Stu­dents on two other buses on the field trip re­turned to the school about 50 miles (80 kilo­me­ters) from the crash site and were re­united with their par­ents.

The ex­act num­ber of chil­dren and adults on the bus wasn’t known, but mul­ti­ple peo­ple were taken to area hos­pi­tals. Po­lice did not im­me­di­ately com­ment on the cause of the crash.

At least two ca­nine units were search­ing the woods along the road­side Thurs­day af­ter­noon, but it wasn’t clear why.

Zainab Qureshi, 11, told The Record she was on one of the two buses not in­volved in the crash. She said those two buses made it to Water­loo Vil­lage, but they were told by teach­ers and chap­er­ones about a half hour later that they had to re­turn to school be­cause of bad weather.

She said stu­dents didn’t find out about the ac­ci­dent until they arrived back at school.

Thuy Nguyen, a nurse from Para­mus, was leav­ing the school with her eighth-grade son who was back at the school tak­ing a stan­dard­ized test and not in the bus. She said she rushed to the school af­ter hear­ing the news.

“My heart just dropped, You hear the name of the school...” she said be­fore trail­ing off.

Men­dez Truck­ing has about 40 driv­ers and trucks, ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Mo­tor Car­rier Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion. A mes­sage left with the com­pany wasn’t im­me­di­ately re­turned. Its trucks have been in seven crashes in the last two years, none of them fa­tal, ac­cord­ing to FMCSA.

SETH WENIG - THE AP

Emer­gency per­son­nel work at the scene of a school bus and dump truck col­li­sion, on In­ter­state 80 in Mount Olive, N.J., Thurs­day, May 17, 2018.

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