By JIM FITZGERALD and TOM HAYS, Associated Press Jim Fitzgerald And Tom Hays,
AP – Sat Mar 12, 6:13 pm ET
NEW YORK – A tour bus returning from a casino at daybreak Saturday scraped along a guard rail, tipped on its side and slammed into a pole that sheared it nearly end to end, leaving a jumble of bodies and twisted metal along Interstate 95. Fourteen passengers were killed.
The bus had just reached the outskirts of New York City on a journey from the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut when the crash happened. The driver told police he lost control trying to avoid a swerving tractor-trailer.
As many as 20 passengers were treated at area hospitals. Seven were in critical condition, according to police. Several were in surgery later in the day.
The crash happened at 5:35 a.m., with some of the 31 passengers still asleep. The bus scraped along the guard rail for 300 feet, toppled and crashed into the support pole for a highway sign indicating the exit for the Hutchinson Parkway.
The pole knifed through the bus front to back along the window line, peeling the roof off all the way to the back tires. Most people aboard were hurled to the front of the bus on impact, fire chief Edward Kilduff said.
The southbound lanes of the highway were closed for hours while emergency workers tended to survivors and removed bodies.
Chung Ninh, 59, told The New York Times and NY1 News that he had been asleep in his seat, then suddenly found himself hanging upside-down from his seat belt, surrounded by the dead and screaming. One man bled from a severed arm.
Ninh said when he tried to help one bloodied woman, the driver told him to stop, because she was dead. “Forget this one. Help another one,” he said the driver told him. He said he and other passengers who were able climbed out through a skylight.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said police were still looking for the truck, which did not stop after the crash. He said the truck was in a lane to the bus’ left, although it was unclear whether the two vehicles touched.
Kelly said both the bus and the rig were both moving at “a significant rate of speed.”
Limo driver Homer Martinez happened on the scene moments after the wreck and saw other drivers sprinting from their cars to assist the injured.
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