FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (PIX11) – Grief counselors were on-site at Farmingdale High School Friday after a bus crash on I-84 in Orange County a day earlier left two people dead and 42 others injured.
The charter bus was carrying a group of high schoolers to band camp.
On it, marching band leader Gina Pellettiere, 43, and former teacher Beatrice Ferrari, 77, both of whom died, officials said. Five of the 44 passengers on board were in critical condition
“She loved band camp. That’s all she talked about every year, and being with the kids,” a friend of Ferrari told PIX11 News.
The bus was one of six in a caravan taking the marching band, color guard, and dancers from Farmingdale High School on Long Island on a beloved annual trip to a camp in Greeley, Pennsylvania.
The bus was only 30 minutes from its destination when the wreck happened a little after 1 p.m., officials said. A tire failure may have been to blame for the bus going off the road, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
Now, students and teachers are left to deal with the raw emotion. One student told PIX11 News it felt unreal.
“The mood is pretty sad but most of the kids are talking to each other, that’s how we lighten the mood,” one student said. “She was a light; she always had a smile on her face.”
While a memorial with flowers, candles, and balloons grew outside of the school on Friday, classes were not in session. Instead, grief counseling was held and comfort dogs were brought in to help students cope with the loss.
Bruce Blakeman, the county executive in Nassau County where Farmingdale High School is located, asked that people “pray for the injured.”
This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press and PIX11’s Anthony DiLorenzo.