MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — In a devastating incident, a charter bus carrying high school students to a band camp veered off a New York highway, resulting in the deaths of two adults and causing severe injuries to several others. The bus was part of a caravan consisting of six vehicles, transporting the marching band, color guard, and dancers from Farmingdale High School on Long Island to their annual camp located in Greeley, Pennsylvania.
The accident occurred around 1 p.m. on Interstate 84 in the town of Wawayanda, which is approximately 45 miles (72 kilometers) northwest of New York City. Tragically, the students were only about 30 minutes away from reaching their destination when the bus careened down an embankment. Governor Kathy Hochul stated that a tire failure may have been the cause of the bus losing control.
Among the victims who lost their lives were the high school's band director, Gina Pellettiere, aged 43 and from Massapequa, and a retired teacher named Beatrice Ferrari, aged 77, hailing from Farmingdale. State police informed that five out of the 44 passengers onboard the bus were hospitalized in critical condition.
One of the Farmingdale students, Anthony Eugenio, aged 15, was sleeping when he suddenly felt a jolt, thinking it was merely part of a dream or nightmare. Soon, however, he realized that the bus was tipping over. Amid the chaos, Eugenio found himself tumbling uncontrollably until he managed to remove his sweatshirt hood from covering his eyes.
"The whole atmosphere was filled with screams," he recalled. "The person next to me was covered in blood. Blood seemed to be everywhere."
Fortunately, Eugenio escaped with minor scrapes and bruises as he crawled out of the overturned bus through a window. Outside, he miraculously located his backpack, which had been thrown from the wreckage, and also found his missing shoe.
Bus Crash Leaves Students Injured
News helicopter footage captured the aftermath of a devastating bus crash involving students from Farmingdale High School. The incident occurred on a highway as the vehicle veered off the road, leaving tire tracks on the asphalt and a path of damaged grass and shrubs on the embankment.
According to Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, the bus plunged 50 feet down a steep slope in the median between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the highway. It eventually came to a rest on its left side, with a warped roof. Fortunately, a ladder provided rescuers with access to the windows, allowing them to help those trapped inside.
This traumatic event unfolded during the annual September trip to band camp, a cherished tradition at Farmingdale High School. The camp caters not only to band members, but also welcomes participants from the color guard and the school's kick line team, along with adult chaperones. In some years, this excursion has seen more than 300 students having fun while honing their skills in rural Pennsylvania.
Tragically, the accident took place approximately 30 miles away from the intended destination, Pine Forest Camp. Most of the 40 students on board were freshmen, according to Hochul. Despite this horrifying experience, she commended their resilience and strength.
The remaining students, who were traveling on other buses, eventually returned to Long Island several hours after the crash. Currently, six area hospitals are tending to the injured individuals from this heartbreaking incident.
One student, Anthony Eugenio, recounted his disbelief as the bus continuously overturned: "This can't be real," he thought. Meanwhile, Bruce Blakeman, Nassau County's county executive, requested everyone to keep the injured in their thoughts and prayers.