WEEDSPORT, N.Y. (AP) — A tour bus bound for Niagara Falls rolled over Saturday on the New York State Thruway in central New York, sending more than 50 people to hospitals, state police and a hospital said.
The full extent of the injuries wasn’t immediately clear, but state police called it a “serious injury” wreck. Some patients were taken for high-level trauma care.
The bus landed on its side in the grass along the highway’s westbound side near Weedsport, a village about 25 miles west of Syracuse. Some 57 people were aboard, including the driver, state police said. All of them were taken to the hospital.
It’s unclear why the bus veered off the road, troopers said in a news release. Police photos showed papers and other items strewn around the white bus as it rested on the road shoulder.
The bus was headed to Niagara Falls from the Fishkill area in the Hudson Valley and the passengers included children, said Auburn Community Hospital spokesperson Matthew Chadderdon. State police said the bus left from Poughkeepsie, though, which is about an hour north of Fishkill.
PIX11’s Central New York sister station WSYR-TV reported from the scene:
Auburn received about 27 patients, including the driver, and was assessing their conditions, Chadderdon said. Three were transferred to Upstate University Hospital, the area’s top-level trauma center. The designation denotes a hospital specially equipped to handle injuries.
Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse received 25 patients in all, spokesperson Darryl Geddes said. He couldn’t immediately provide information on their conditions.
State police revealed Saturday night that the tour bus is operated by JTR Transportation in Poughkeepsie and was driven by Fermin Vasquez, 66 of Wingdale, who was one of the patients hospitalized.
Juan Gil-Urrego told WSYR-TV that his mother, Ximena Urrego, had arranged the trip, one of many she has planned to various destinations as affordable excursions for residents. The bus left around 6 a.m. on one of the last trips Urrego had organized for the summer, he said.
A few children were aboard, one possibly just a month old, Gil-Urrego said.
His mother was taken to a hospital with glass in her eye and needing back surgery, her son said, but he was just relieved she had survived.
The westbound lanes were closed for a time, but some later. reopened. The right lane was still shut down more than four hours later, and traffic was backed up for miles, the state police said.
State police officials said the investigation is ongoing and are asking for anyone who may have witnessed the crash to contact Investigator Brad Holcomb, SP Waterloo, at 315-539-3530 with any information.