First responder describes what she saw as she rushed to help passengers of overturned bus

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The first responder on the scene of Saturday evening’s overturned bus wasn't even on duty -- and she thought things would be much worse.

Alicia Micozzi, of Maryland City, Maryland, was driving to Massachusetts to see family. An EMT-BLS, Micozzi was a few hundred feet away from the bus when she heard a loud “bang.”

“As I look up to get an idea of where this crash came from, this school bus was airborne,” Micozzi said. “It flipped, and before it even hit the ground, I was out the door on the phone with the state troopers.”

The bus was returning to Newark from a city-sponsored picnic event at the Black Bear Lake Country Club. About half the passengers were children and teenagers.

“What I was imagining as I was running to the scene in my head was a major, major incident with multiple traumatic injuries,” Micozzi said.

Incredibly, everyone was relatively OK, considering what happened. Authorities said 36 people were transported to hospitals, half of them children or teens.

Micozzi said she and other volunteers, including trained and untrained people who stopped, focused on getting everyone to safety, controlling traffic and immobilizing the injured until first responders arrived.

“Everybody just worked together the best they could,” she said. “Civilians were taking orders. It was beautiful, hectic, but it worked out really, really well.”

Micozzi directed crash investigators to witnesses. Those witnesses told investigators that a white car bounced off the guard rail, which sent it swerving in front of the bus, causing the crash. The white car kept going.

Investigators are working to determine the official cause of the crash, but weather likely planed a role.