WHITNEY POINT, N.Y. - A tour bus carrying more than 30 passengers flipped over on an upstate highway last night and landed upside-down in a ditch, injuring several people and trapping at least one woman underneath it.
Four people were seriously injured and 36 others suffered minor injuries, a dispatcher for the Broome County Sheriff’s Office said.
The accident, the latest in a string of bus crashes in the Northeast this year, occurred on Interstate 81 in a southbound lane near Whitney Point. The bus, which appeared to have no markings on its sides, sat in the ditch on its roof with its wheels in the air.
First responders worked frantically to free a woman who was trapped under the bus, Whitney Point Fire Department Chief Nicholas Sculley said.
The woman, who was conscious and alert, had been partially ejected through the bus roof escape hatch, which had come open. She was lying on her back with her head under the bus, in a gap between the ground and the bus. She was rescued with no obvious external injuries other than a couple of cuts to her face, Sculley said.
State Police Sergeant Todd Burdick told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin that the bus was coming from Niagara Falls and heading to Trenton, N.J. He said weather and speed too fast for conditions caused the accident.
“At the time, there was a severe downpour,’’ Burdick told the paper.
At Lourdes Hospital, in Binghamton, clinical manager Barb Anderson said people from the bus were getting X-rays and tests and it was unclear how many would be admitted.
The southbound side of I-81 was closed around Whitney Point because of the accident, Department of Transportation spokesman Dave Hamburg said. The cause of the accident hadn’t been determined.
Tour bus industry safety has drawn heightened attention since the March 12 crash of a bus returning to New York City’s Chinatown after an overnight excursion to a Connecticut casino. Fifteen people were killed when the bus flipped onto its side and struck a pole, peeling off its roof.