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One child and one teacher killed in ‘horrific’ collision that ripped apart school bus in New Jersey

Paramus Public Schools said the bus was taking pupils from East Brook Middle School to New Jersey historic site Waterloo Village, which is about five miles from the crash scene

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2018, 12:24am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2018, 5:53am

A teacher and a pupil were killed when their school bus was ripped apart in a collision with a dump truck on a New Jersey highway on Thursday, 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. The children had been travelling to a local historic site.

“I heard a scraping sound and we toppled over the highway,” said pupil Theo Ancevski, 11, 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 seat belts.”

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.

A red dump truck with a mangled front end was parked along the highway nearby, about 50 miles (80 kilometres) west of New York. The truck was registered to Mendez Trucking, of Belleville.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the driver of the truck was alive and being treated at a hospital, but officials did not reveal his condition.

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Murphy said the bus was carrying 38 students and seven adults when it crashed. Of those passengers, 43 were taken to hospitals, where some were in surgery, he said.

“Our hearts are broken by today’s tragedy,” Murphy said in a tweet. 

Paramus Public Schools said that the bus was taking pupils from East Brook Middle School to Waterloo Village, a restored 19th-century canal town that is about five miles from the crash scene. 

Pupils on two other buses on the field trip returned to the school Thursday morning and were reunited with their parents, said Paramus Police Commissioner Holly Tedesco. 

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A sign outside the school informed people to go to the auditorium for updates on the accident, and the school was offering crisis counselling.

“There’s an incredible emergency response from throughout Morris County and by state police. It’s a horrific scene,” said Mount Olive Mayor Rob Greenbaum.

Morristown Medical Center spokeswoman Elaine Andrecovich said they have received some people from the accident, but she did not have a number available and could not say how many were children.

About 10 victims were taken to St. Clare’s Dover hospital and St. Clare’s Denville hospital, said a hospital spokeswoman, Patty Montgomery. She said they were being evaluated and treated, but she did not have ages or conditions.

Waterloo Village is a historic site depicting a Lenape Indian community and once-thriving port along the Morris Canal in northwestern New Jersey. It features several historic homes, a blacksmith shop, general store and more. It is a popular spot for school trips.