NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Ten people were hurt when an elementary school bus collided with a landscaping truck Wednesday in Orange County.
The crash happened shortly before 8:30 a.m. near the intersection of Little Britain and Beattie roads in New Windsor.
The mangled wreckage – the crushed front of the school bus – is enough to chill the heart when thinking about those involved experienced, reported CBS2’s Tony Aiello. Imagine the wave of fright and anxiety that washed over parents as they learned of the accident.
“I talked to the president of the hospital earlier today. Parents very scared, panicking in the emergency responders. First responders who had to see this. So it was very mentally draining for everybody involved,” said Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus.
Watch Tony Aiello’s report —
New Windsor police say the Washingtonville Central School District bus was heading east on Route 207 towards Little Britain Elementary School.
Police say westbound Flanagan Tree Service truck pulling a wood chipper crossed the double yellow line, striking the bus.
A white sedan was also involved in the accident.
A witness described the collision’s loud boom.
“I was out on my back deck having my morning coffee before 9 o’clock… Must have been about 8:30 maybe. And heard a loud boom, it almost sounded like a container was coming off of a garbage truck or something,” witness Gregg Clark said. “Then took a shower, and then my wife said that on Facebook there was an accident.”
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First responders extricated the truck and bus drivers – both seriously injured.
A 6-year-old seated behind the driver was also stuck in the wreckage for an hour. Her uncle spoke with CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.
“There was some concern about her leg, a fracture, but it’s not fractured, so we’re happy about that. She’s got some trauma. She’s a tough kid. She didn’t cry a bit. She told her mom she did her yoga breaths to stay calm,” Bill Campbell told Dhillon.
Seven other students were able to walk off the bus. They were assessed at the hospital and cleared to go home.
“Oh my God, these poor kids, they’re never going to get over this. The fact that their first day of school, or around the first day, that something like this could happen,” said New Windsor resident Pat Nichols.
New Windsor Police Chief Rob Doss spoke with CBS2’s Christina Fan over the phone, describing the moment he realized his 7-year-old daughter, Ryleigh, was on board the bus.
“I realized what bus number it was, and that’s when my heart sank. Then I knew, then I actually realized, you know, I’m seeing the damage of the bus and then I’m seeing it’s my daughter’s bus,” Doss said.
The 7-year-old was luckily uninjured. Her focus is on her bus driver, affectionately called Mr. Andy.
“I hope he gets better and I miss him,” Ryleigh said.
She says all her classmates cried when they saw Mr. Andy’s life-threatening injuries after the crash.
“He normally says hi, we also say jokes and he also sings songs with us,” Ryleigh said.
State police will determine if speed, weather conditions or mechanical failure may have contributed to the crash.
The school district said parents were contacted immediately and support services will be provided.
Local Assemblyman Colin Schmitt tweeted about the crash, saying, “God lift up all impacted.”
Please say a prayer for the young students involved in a serious bus accident in New Windsor. Our first responders are doing heroes work this morning. God lift up all impacted.
— Colin Schmitt (@colinschmitt) October 21, 2020
State Sen. Jen Metzger shared her prayers, as well.
I am praying for the children in the school bus accident this morning in New Windsor. Thank you to the emergency first responders who quickly arrived on the scene.
— Senator Jen Metzger (@SenatorMetzger) October 21, 2020
According to the school district’s website, there are seatbelts on newer buses, but they’re only mandatory on smaller buses that carry fewer than 10 students.
It’s unclear if students were wearing them at the time of Wednesday’s crash.
After state police carefully documented the scene, the mangled bus was hauled away late Wednesday afternoon.
The two drivers and a 6-year-old girl were still in the hospital as of Wednesday night. Officials say all three suffer from severe compound fractures.
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