Child & teacher killed in N.J.
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.