Gov. Hochul issues statement on I-84 bus tragedy

Wawayanda. The fatal crash took the lives of two passengers, and left several others in critical condition.

| 22 Sep 2023 | 02:25

In the wake of a devastating bus crash on the afternoon of September 21, Governor Kathy Hochul made a statement updating residents on status of the 44 passengers from the Farmingdale school district in Long Island who were onboard, and the potential cause of the accident.

“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.”

Hochul said the preliminary determination is that a faulty front tire contributed to the accident.

While driving westbound on I-84, the bus tumbled down a 50-foot ravine near Exit 15A, closing the highway for several hours. At the time, most of the passengers were described as being injured in some capacity, requiring multiple area ambulances and helicopters to help transport them to local hospitals for care. Hochul said the rescue process took roughly 45 minutes “because of the efforts of an incredible amount of teamwork.”

“When I talk about those who respond, I do want to acknowledge some incredible people who put on their uniforms every day, are there in our time of need, and my God, this was a time of need,” Hochul continued. “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, Paul Arteta, 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 questioned. They just respond, and we owe them our gratitude every single day.”

Currently, the crash is said to have caused two fatalities; at least five students remain in critical condition, per Hochul’s statement.

After the accident, local lawmakers and members of law enforcement expressed deep concern for those involved.

On Friday, Sheriff Arteta issued the following statement on behalf of his office. “Yesterday, our community was struck with an unimaginable tragedy. My heart aches for the families and loved ones of those we lost in the devastating bus accident and for those currently fighting for their lives. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to our first responders who acted swiftly and with great compassion in the face of such heartbreak. In these moments, words seem inadequate, but please know that we stand with you, mourn with you, and will do everything in our power to support you during this heartbreaking time.”