A deadly bus crash in southern New Jersey has left one person dead and at least four special needs students injured after an SUV and a school bus collided on Thursday morning. Around 7:45 a.m, the bus and the Toyota RAV4 crashed, ultimately causing the school bus to flip over on its side.
The incident took place on the 800 block of Commerce Street, which is right off route 49, police said. New Jersey Traffic South said that both directions on route 49 had to be closed due to clean-up, and a thorough investigation into the accident has been launched.
New Jersey state police said that the driver of the SUV was pronounced dead at the scene. However, the victim was not identified.
Students on the Bridgeton Public Schools bus suffered from minor injuries but are expected to recover. They were all taken to Inspira Medical Center for medical treatment.
Thomasina Jones, who is the school’s current superintendent, said that the children on the school bus are between the ages of 11 and 17. She also said that the bus driver and an aide were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.
“The school bus driver and bus aide are employees for Kerry Bus Service, Inc.,” Jones said. “A bus aide was transported to Cooper University Hospital in Camden.”
According to police, the bus passenger’s injuries are considered to be quite serious.
According to CBS News, footage taken from the horrific crash shows the bus flipped over on its side, and the front of the smashed SUV was covered in a sheet. Jones said that the driver of the SUV was driving in the westbound lane before slamming into the school bus.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim,” Jones said. “That’s really tragic.”
The bus crash took place in Bridgeton, which is approximately 35 miles south of Philadelphia, CBS Philadelphia reported. Jones stated to CBS Philadelphia that due to the children’s special needs, they had to be transported from Bridgeton to schools that are located just outside of the school district.
Janet Hickman, 44, who witnessed the accident said she heard a loud noise and assumed that it was just thunder. She then proceeded to look outside and discovered that a school bus flipped over on its side.
“Children were sliding out the back door, she said. One girl was limping and crying,” Hickman said. “The vehicle that struck the bus had smoke coming out of it.”
“It was scary,” Hickman added. “It was the worst accident I’ve ever seen out here.”
Director Tracy Harris, who runs the Glory Tabernacle Childcare and Learning Center right down the road where the accident occurred, said that she was worried that one of her facility’s buses was involved in the tragic crash.
“I just panicked to make sure it wasn’t one of ours,” she said.
Harris then called up staff to make sure that everybody involved in the crash was okay.
In the meantime, Bridgeton Public Schools are reaching out to the families of those involved in the school bus accident on Thursday morning.
“My heart goes out to all of the students’ families and the other driver,” Jones said. A school employee is at Inspira Medical Center Vineland to be with the children until their parents arrive,” she added.
Inspira Spokeswoman Diana Gervasi said she couldn’t discuss details of the students’ injuries, but she did say that at least one student was expected to be treated and released sometime Thursday morning. She also mentioned that hospital staff members, as well as nurses, were available to address parents’ questions and to comfort them as well.
State police said that the cause of the crash is unknown at this time and currently remains under investigation.
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]