NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A tour bus smashed into a building in Queens on Monday afternoon, injuring nine people, fire officials said.
The crash took place at around 2:24 p.m. at 63rd Avenue near Woodhaven Boulevard in Rego Park.
The bus was removed on Monday night, but a gaping hole remained.
Please avoid N/B Woodhaven Blvd at 63 Avenue due to a collision requiring an investigation pic.twitter.com/GiXla5z5jS
— NYPD 112th Precinct (@NYPD112Pct) August 24, 2015
The Resorts World Casino bus was traveling north on Woodhaven when it lost control and careened into a corner of the building, officials said. It took down a large chunk of the building, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported. The three-story building houses a law office, a realtor and apartments.
A gray car parked nearby was also struck.
“I just literally flew into the wall, turned around, and saw the back of my apartment missing, and just ran out,” Colette Landers told CBS2’s Jessica Schneider exclusively.
Landers was about to step into the shower on Monday afternoon, when the bus tore down her wall.
“It really was just the impact. There wasn’t any screeching or anything, so I wasn’t sure what it was originally,” she said.
Landers appeared calm, but said she was terribly shaken and upset. She escaped her apartment to see nearly a dozen people being treated on stretchers.
Late Monday night, the bus had been taken away, but Landers’ wall was still open so that her bookcase could be seen from the street.
A witness told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond the bus was cut off by an SUV.
PHOTOS: Bus Crashes Into Queens Building
“Went to go in front of him, and the bus driver was, you know, on his horn, but neither one of them was slowing down,” the woman said.
Another witness said the driver appeared to be doing his best to avoid the accident.
“The guy in the lane was going to make a right and he want to make a right in front of him and the only way for the bus to avoid was to swerve into the building,” Ann Marie Constantides said,” He tried to avoid this at all costs. It wasn’t his fault.”
All five people who were aboard the bus and one person who was inside the building were rushed to area hospitals, FDNY officials said. Three others were also injured, but refused medical attention at the scene, the FDNY said.
— Alice Gainer (@GainerTV) August 24, 2015
In the minutes before first responders arrived, witnesses jumped into action, including Ravendra Persaud, 19, who helped pull people out of the bus.
“This one lady, she was screaming because she was really scared and nervous. So we helped her get out,” Persaud told Gainer. “There was this older gentleman; he claims he was fine, but he was the first one that they took to the hospital. And then this other guy, his leg was broken, and he couldn’t get out. So he put both his feet over the window, and I tried to pick him down from there.”
“The one girl, she screamed like somebody (was) killing her in the terrible movies,” one witness told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones.
The bus driver, though, was stuck for quite some time.
“I climbed up and looked at the bus driver,” Persaud said. “He was in a bad condition. I tried to move the glass and the bricks and everything that was blocking him, but it was too much, and I couldn’t help him get out.”
“His driver side was into the building. Actually, part of the building, the second flood, is resting inside the bus,” said Assistant Fire Chief Edward Ferrier. “So it was a precarious situation. … Our Special Operations Command units had to go in and shore up the building, so we were able to stabilize the building and safely search the building.”
A source at the bus company told CBS2’s Schneider that the driver was well rested and on his first day back to work after the weekend.
Another first responder saw the driver ultimately extricated using the jaws of life.
“They pulled the operator out in a neck brace as well as on a backboard, suffered multiple lacerations to his face,” said P.J. Marcel of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps. “But he was conscious, and he was talking to the first responders at the scene.”
Sources at the scene said the driver of the SUV that allegedly cut off the bus was issued a summons.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by today’s bus accident,” Resorts World Casino New York City said in a statement. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities in the investigation.”
MAJOR 10-60 BUS INTO BUILDING ACCIDENT WITH INJURIES ON 63RD AVE. & WOODHAVEN, QUEENS. ( PHOTOS BY THEMAJESTIRIUM1 ) pic.twitter.com/jNHYkZqUFd
— JOSEPH JOHN RAMOS (@THEMAJESTIRIUM1) August 24, 2015
The crash was also impacting traffic in the area late Monday afternoon. CBS2’s Joe Biermann reported that 63rd Avenue was closed at Woodhaven Boulevard and northbound Woodhaven Boulevard is completely closed.