The charter bus that slammed into a Long Island bridge overpass, injuring teens returning from a spring break trip to Europe, was about 4 feet taller than the structure, according to a report.
The entire length of the 2000 Prevost was sheared in the crash, which happened shortly after 9 p.m. on the Southern State Parkway in Lakeview, according to New York State Police.
Two passengers suffered serious injuries, five others received moderate injuries and about three dozen were lightly hurt in the accident, State Police Maj. David Candelaria said.
“Everybody was able to walk out except one, which we extricated,” Lakeview Fire Chief Patrick McNeill told Newsday. “There was glass everywhere. The roof of the bus is down to the top of the seat covers.”
The 38 students from various Long Island high schools, who had taken a trip to Europe with EF Tours along with five chaperones, had just returned from JFK Airport and were heading to a shopping mall to meet up with parents, police said.
Police said the driver — identified as Troy D. Gaston of Bethlehem, Pa. — was being evaluated and did not seem to be familiar with commercial vehicle restrictions on the parkway.
A sign posted by the state on the overpass on the eastbound Southern at the Exit 18 says the clearance is 7 feet, 7 inches. The height of the Prevost is about 12 feet, according to the bus manufacturer, Newsday reported.
“I know that this is the lowest, probably, on the whole parkway system, this specific bridge,” Candelaria said.
In 2017, there were reports that an electronic alarm system would be installed on the parkway to warn drivers of vehicles too high for the overpass.
The driver “obviously wasn’t aware of the parkway system” and its restrictions on commercial vehicles, Candelaria said. “It’s a high-impact strike. He made it all the way through.”
Gaston was among 21 patients taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow “in non-critical condition,” hospital President and CEO Dr. Victor Politi said in a statement Monday morning.
Five patients – three teens and two adults — were listed in stable condition at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, spokesman Joe Calderone told Newsday.
A spokesman for Journey Bus Lines, based in Irvington, NJ, said everyone at the company was upset over the incident.
“We’re concerned about the passengers, the driver and their families — everyone in our company feels that way,” the spokesman told Newsday. “The police are looking into it and our insurance has been notified.”