Multiple news sources report that a bus carrying Farmingdale High School band students on their way to band camp in Pennsylvania overturned on Interstate 84 in Orange County Thursday afternoon.
In this latest update we learned that 2 people have died. Gina Pellettiere, 43, of Massapequa, the director of the high school’s marching band and wind ensemble, was killed in the crash, along with a second adult–as yet unnamed. Five students were critically injured, officials said.
A source told NBC 4 NY that the person who died was an adult. The five critically injured are “young people,” Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said, NBC 4 reported. Overall, 50 were injured, according to NBC 4.
“We were informed that there had been an accident with Bus 1 en route to Greeley, PA for band camp,” the Farmingdale School District wrote in a statement. “Police and emergency responders on on the scene, as well as district administration.”
Injured students from the bus are being taken to Orange County Community’s Diana Physical Education Building in Middletown for reunification, the school district said in an update. Students from the other five buses are headed back to Farmingdale High School. They will stop at Orange County Community College first for the chance to stretch and meet with grief counselors.
Reunification will take place in the bus parking lot off Grant Avenue. People were asked to bring identification.
The state Department of Transportation said the crash occurred at 1:30 p.m. on I-84 westbound at Exit 15A/B (I-84) – Middletown – Goshen (US 6 – Route 17M) (Wawayanda).
Gov. Kathy Hochul said she was “briefed on the tragedy” and directed New York State Police and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to the crash site.
“We are grateful for the first responders whose speedy action saved lives and we will continue to support them however necessary,” Hochul said in a statement. “Our hearts are with all who are impacted by this horrific situation.”
The bus was roughly an hour away from its destination before the crash.
Orange County Emergency Management said that I-84 is closed in both directions between Exit 1 and Exit 15 until further notice. It is anticipated it will be closed for several hours. They advise finding alternate routes.
“Join me in praying for Farmingdale… the families, students, teachers, and all affected by this terrible tragedy,” Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino wrote on Facebook.
New York State Sen. Steve Rhoads said he and his office were “horrified” to learn of the bus crash.
“I’ve reached out to the District to offer our full support,” Rhoads said. “Let us join together as one family to keep the Farmingdale students, families and community in our prayers.”
More details will become available as the situation is assessed.