NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Three people were hospitalized Monday afternoon when a bus slammed into a support pillar beneath the FDR Drive.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, the accident happened around 4:30 p.m. along the access road to the FDR Drive at 34th Street.
The QM11 bus was on its way to leave Manhattan for Queens, with 10 passengers and a driver on board.
The driver somehow came off the access road, went up onto a concrete divider, and hit the support column holding up the expressway overhead. The front right tire ended up about 2 1/2 feet off the ground.
“The bus had impacted the support for the FDR Drive, and it came to rest on top of like a two-foot barricade,” FDNY Battalion Chief Mark Rosenbaum told WCBS 880’s John Metaxas.
The bus appeared to hit the tapered end of the concrete divider and ride it straight up.
“The bus started shaking and then you know, it just it, and it just stopped,” said passenger Jenny Lee.
The front door warped and cracked and would not open after the accident, so firefighters had to pry the door off and use a ladder to help the passengers exit.
“The front door to the bus was stuck shut, and the driver was unable to open the door, so the passengers were stuck in there,” Rosenbaum said.
Passenger Aaron Young said he was thrown by the force of the crash.
“All I know is I was sleeping, and the next thing I went flying,” Young said. “I was in the handicap seat. The seat was all the way up, and there was nothing to stop me. I went flying. I had been told he was speeding.”
Young had a service dog with him on the bus.
“He was fine, I guess. He was upset initially, I guess, but he handled it just fine. We also have the dog trained; he’s handled to be calm in situations,” he said.
Young said the bus driver got up and apologized to the riders for what happened. Another woman who saw the bus driver said he looked a little bit embarrassed about what happened.
“He looked so sad,” said Margie Schneidman. “He didn’t look hurt but he was, yes, terrible.”
Investigators were trying to determine whether the bus driver was distracted, and how exactly the accident happened.
Nine of the 11 people on the bus complained of pain, and three of them were sent to area hospitals, Aiello reported.
The 46-year-old male driver was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center with an injury to his hand, police said. A 63-year-old man and a 56-year-old woman were also taken to Bellevue with minor injuries.
The man suffered chest injuries when he hit his chest on the seat in front of him, the FDNY said.
The 40,000-pound bus scraped a quarter inch of concrete off the barrier as it was pulled back to the ground by a heavy-duty tow truck.