Child & teacher killed in N.J.

New York Daily News - - CLASS TRIP TRAGEDY - BY ME­GAN CERULLO and LEONARD GREENE

A FUN-FILLED class trip turned to tragedy Thurs­day when a stu­dent and teacher died af­ter a crowded school bus was ripped apart in a col­li­sion with a dump truck on a New Jer­sey high­way, au­thor­i­ties said.

Fifth-graders from East Brook Mid­dle School in Para­mus were on their way to a field trip at Water­loo Vil­lage, a re­stored 19th-cen­tury canal town, when their bus crashed into the truck shortly af­ter 10 a.m. along a stretch of In­ter­state 80 in Mor­ris County, po­lice said.

Har­row­ing images from the scene showed the body of the bus ripped from its chas­sis as first re­spon­ders tended to shaken stu­dents on the side of the road in Mount Olive.

The bus was car­ry­ing 38 stu­dents and seven adults, in­clud­ing the driver. All of the sur­vivors were taken to area hos­pi­tals.

Some pa­tients were in crit­i­cal con­di­tion and were un­der­go­ing surgery, ac­cord­ing to New Jer­sey Gov. Phil Mur­phy. The iden­ti­ties of the dead were not re­leased.

“This is a shaken com­mu­nity,” Mur­phy said at a news con­fer­ence.

Two other buses car­ry­ing stu­dents from the school arrived at their Byram, Sus­sex County, des­ti­na­tion with­out in­ci­dent. They re­turned to the school and the kids were re­united with their wor­ried par­ents.

Au­thor­i­ties said the bus that crashed might have missed its exit.

The red dump truck, which be­longed to Men­dez Truck­ing, of Belleville, N.J., had a man­gled front end and the words “In God we trust,” em­bla­zoned on the back.

The truck­ing com­pany had a string of crashes in re­cent years and a higher than av­er­age rate of vi­o­la­tions that side­lined its ve­hi­cles, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral safety data.

Of­fi­cials said the bus driver is a dis­trict em­ployee, and the bus is owned by the Para­mus Pub­lic Schools. The truck driver’s con­di­tion was not im­me­di­ately clear.

Stu­dent Theo Ancevski, 11, was on the bus.

It “flew off of the wheels and it hit the metal thing on the side of the high­way, so then it tipped to the left and a lot of peo­ple in­jured them­selves,” he told MyCen­tralJersey.com.

Theo said stu­dents ex­ited the bus through its win­dows and the emer­gency hatch on the roof. The ac­ci­dent shut down In­ter­state 80 in both di­rec­tions near Exit 25.

Sev­enth-grader Ale­jan­dro Gar­cia, a stu­dent at the mid­dle school, said his class­mates started sob­bing when they heard the news. Many had younger broth­ers and sisters on the bus, he told Northjersey.com.

Ber­gen County Ex­ec­u­tive Jim Tedesco said the com­mu­nity would work to move past the tragedy.

“This com­mu­nity is strong,” Tedesco said. “We’re go­ing to con­tinue to move for­ward but also rec­og­nize and un­der­stand what hap­pened to a teacher and a stu­dent to­day.”

Stu­dents were dis­missed from school early Thurs­day. Cri­sis coun­selors will be on hand to meet with stu­dents Fri­day, of­fi­cials said.

“We would like to thank the Para­mus com­mu­nity for their sup­port dur­ing this very dif­fi­cult time,” the school dis­trict said on its web­site. “Our hearts go out to the fam­i­lies of our stu­dents, staff and com­mu­nity mem­bers.”

New Jer­sey State Po­lice and the Mor­ris County pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice are con­duct­ing a joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the crash.

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