A student and teacher were killed Thursday in New Jersey when the school bus they were traveling in was involved in an accident with a dump truck, authorities said. Dozens of other children and adults were injured and taken to hospitals.
The school bus was carrying fifth-grade students from East Brook Middle School to a field trip at Waterloo Village, a restored 19th-century canal town, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Bergen County officials told reporters. The accident happened about 10:20 a.m. on westbound Interstate 80 in Mount Olive township in northern New Jersey.
“This is a shaken community,” Murphy said at a Thursday afternoon news conference shown on WABC-TV.
Officials declined to identify the student and teacher who were killed.
The school bus and the dump truck collided, causing the bus to overturn, Sgt. Jeff Flynn, a New Jersey state police spokesman, said in a news release.
On Friday, New Jersey State Police said that the cause of the crash remains under investigation and that “no fault has been found” at this time, according to Flynn. He said more information on the crash is expected to be released Friday. Officials also said they had no other details on the condition of those who were injured.
Photos and video from the crash scene show a school bus on its side, the mangled engine and hood sheared from the front, and the chassis at a right angle. A picture showed a red dump truck stopped at the accident scene. Emblazoned on the back of the truck was “In God we trust.”
Thirty-eight students and seven adults were aboard the bus, which school district officials said was equipped with seat belts. All the survivors were taken to hospitals, authorities said.
Officials said the bus driver is a district employee, and the school bus is owned by Paramus Public Schools. The dump truck driver’s condition was not immediately clear.
State police and prosecutors in Morris County, which is where the accident happened, were conducting a joint investigation, officials said.
Injured passengers were being treated at about a half-dozen hospitals, Murphy said, including 21 who were taken to Morristown Medical Center and 10 who were transported to Hackettstown Medical Center.
Some of the injured were in critical condition, requiring surgery, the governor said.
A spokeswoman for Morristown Medical Center confirmed that the hospital was treating passengers from the bus but declined to provide ages or describe their injuries.
Two schoolchildren were being treated at St. Joseph’s, spokeswoman Ania Gray said. She declined to provide further details.
Anna Scalora, a spokeswoman for Hackettstown Medical Center, said the hospital was treating children but did not provide more information.
East Brook Middle School, located about 20 miles outside New York City, serves 650 students in the fifth through eighth grades.
East Brook students were dismissed from school early Thursday and evening activities canceled.
“We would like to thank the Paramus Community for their support during this very difficult time,” the school district said on its website. “Our hearts go out to the families of our students, staff and community members. We also thank the first responders who did a tremendous job.”
Crisis counseling will be available Friday to students in the Paramus school district, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco told reporters.
“It’s difficult to stand here today,” Tedesco said. “This community is strong … we’re going to continue to move forward but also recognize and understand what happened to a teacher and a student today.”
Students on two other buses that were also traveling to Waterloo Village returned to the school and were reunited with their parents. Paramus Public Schools Superintendent Michele Robinson said remaining field trips for the school year have been canceled.
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, Murphy tweeted his reaction: “Our hearts are broken by today’s tragedy.”