Two Killed After Bus Carrying High School Students Crashes in Upstate New York

Two people were killed after a charter bus carrying high school staff and students exiting a highway and going down an embankment in Orange County, New York, on Thursday, September 21, Governor Kathy Hochul said.

According to local reports, the bus was carrying 40 students and four adults from Farmingdale High School in Nassau County and was headed to a marching band camp in Greeley, Pennsylvania, on Thursday afternoon.

Speaking in Middletown, Hochul said a faulty front tire may have contributed to the accident but said it was a “preliminary determination” pending further investigation.

Hochul said the fatalities were two adults and that “five or six” students were in critical condition, and thanked local authorities for their quick actions and offered condolences to the families.

“There are a lot of families that need some love tonight and we extend that from 20 million New Yorkers, who all know how much we cherish our children, our adults, our band leaders,” Hochul added. Credit: Governor Kathy Hochul via Storyful

Video transcript

KATHY HOCHUL: Good afternoon. Today was a day of terror for 44 passengers on a private coach line, a group of high school students, members of the Farmingdale marching band, en route to a camp in Pennsylvania. No one could have foreseen what these 40 students and four adults would have experienced. But, certainly, there are families grieving today.

They say grief is the price you pay for love. We have families. We have a school, a school district, a county, and, indeed, an entire state that is grieving at this time. At approximately 1:12 PM this afternoon, New York State Police patrolling I-84, as is customary, responded to a call. And they got to the site of the accident, a bus that literally tumbled down a 50-foot ravine, within minutes. It's extraordinary.

And to our state police, once again, I'm in awe of what you do. But imagine the fear, the screams, and the aftermath when these high school students, many of them freshmen, we're surrounded by this chaos. But they endured. They were strong. And within 45 minutes, because of the efforts of an incredible amount of teamwork, these young people and the adults were brought to safety.

It is likely that a faulty front tire contributed to the accident. Although, again, this is still under investigation. Those are-- that's a preliminary determination. To colonel Richard Mazzone, the assistant deputy superintendent of this troop, I thank him for his quick response, the men and women who are participating, also the orange county sheriff. I want to thank the sheriff because he and his deputies were there, also, responding so quickly.

The City of Middletown Police, I thank them and the countless fire and rescue departments that showed up, literally running into danger, uncertain as to whether or not that bus could explode or whether they'd be safe. But they never question. They just respond. And we owe them our gratitude every single day.

Thus far, the count is four fatalities. I'm sorry, two fatalities, two adults. But there are five or six students that are in critical condition at any one of six hospitals in the vicinity. More will be reported. At this time, I'd like Colonel Mazzone to describe in more detail what we know at this time. We'll give all the information to the public and to the press as soon as we know it. But at this point--

And I think our county executive for being here, traveling. But there's a lot of families that need some love tonight. And we extend that from 20 million New Yorkers who all know how much we cherish our children, our adults, our band leaders. And life will be a little bit emptier without them. So let's keep them in our prayers this evening and as they recover from this horrific, traumatic experience.