NEWARK, N.J. — A passenger has died from their injuries after two New Jersey Transit buses collided in Newark Friday morning, killing a driver and sending more than a dozen victims to the hospital, authorities said.
The deceased driver has been identified as Joseph Barthelus, an employee with NJ Transit for 27 years. The surviving driver has been identified as James Roberts, a 35-year NJ Transit employee who was treated at a hospital and released following Friday’s crash.
Both drivers were “in good standing” with New Jersey Transit, officials said.
Essex County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed a second person involved the crash, a passenger, has died, but did not identify the deceased.
Officials “won’t speculate” as to what caused the crash and said an official news release is expected later Friday.
Bathelus, driving a No. 59 bus, was traveling on Broad Street with no passengers onboard when it T-boned a No. 13 bus being driven by Roberts on Raymond Boulevard with about 20 passengers onboard, according to a NJ Transit spokesperson.
The driver of the No. 59 bus was killed in the crash and several passengers in the other bus were hurt, NJ Transit said.
Nineteen passengers were hospitalized, including seven in critical condition, according to Mayor Mayor Ras Baraka.
“By the grace of God, we’re praying for all of the folks that are in the hospital, that they get a speedy recovery from this tragic accident this morning,” Baraka said at a morning news conference.
New Jersey Transit Chief of Police Christopher Trucillo later clarified there were 17 passengers, and all were hospitalized in addition to the surviving bus driver.
As of 3 p.m., a single victim remained listed in critical condition, five were in serious condition, four in fair condition and one in good condition, Baraka said.
Multiple ambulances and fire engines responded to the scene, and an apparent triage center was established at a nearby center median where several people were seen lying on the concrete as they were treated by medical officials.
Two bus drivers who were near the crash but not involved stopped their vehicles when they saw it.
They witnessed about 20 people being removed from the wrecked buses.
“It’s devastating,” one driver said. “People just need to respect the road. Take your time, be late. You are where you’re supposed to be at the time you’re there because that’s where God had you.”
Multiple people have said the No. 59 bus driver run a red light, and Baraka confirmed the allegation was being investigated.
The No. 59 bus was not in service at the time of the collision. It was heading back to the start of the route at Lincoln Park, the executive director of New Jersey Transit said. The No. 13 bus began its route at the Irvington Terminal and was headed to Belleville, the executive director said.
Several NJ Transit bus lines faced delays and detours because of the deadly crash.
“We have to make sure we clean up what’s happening down here and we have to clear the street and make sure business goes on as usual,” Baraka said. “We’re going to be out here for some time. It’s going to be difficult getting to work this morning.”
An official with the National Transportation Safety Board said the agency is not investigating the crash.
Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating, and officials are at the scene.
PIX11’s Paige Leskin and Anthony DiLorenzo contributed to this report.