Fatal New Jersey School Bus Crash Occurred After Bus Driver Made an Illegal U-Turn: Report
Before a school bus carrying fifth-grade students and teachers collided with a dump truck in New Jersey on Thursday, killing a teacher and a student, the bus driver reportedly made an illegal U-turn.
Local authorities told CBS News that the bus driver made the move after missing an exit while driving on Interstate 80 near Mount Olive, the outlet reported.
A spokesperson with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office could not confirm nor deny the report to PEOPLE, as the case is still under active investigation, adding that more updates on the case might become available later on Friday.
The crash occurred around 10:20 a.m. local time along Route 80 near Mount Olive Township, New Jersey State Police Acting Superintendent Patrick Callahan and Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp said in a joint press release issued on Thursday.
During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy confirmed the two fatalities included a teacher and a student. He added that some of the victims of the crash were listed in critical condition and undergoing surgery. The driver of the dump truck is alive and in a hospital.
“Everybody was injured,” Murphy said of the 43 other passengers on the bus.
The students and teachers, who were from East Brook Middle School in Paramus, New Jersey, were on their way to nearby Waterloo Village for a field trip.
Pictures from the scene posted to social media show the school bus tipped on its side with its front end and undercarriage torn to pieces and scattered along the highway.
Murphy also said schools in the area will be opened tomorrow, and crisis counselors will be on hand to talk to students.
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Although authorities have not released information on the victims, the New Jersey State Police have stated that at the time of the accident, 38 students and seven adults were on the bus.
Of the 43 injured, 21 individuals were transported to Morristown Medical Center, while the rest of the injured passengers were taken to other local hospitals. The state police also revealed that some of the patients are in critical condition.
Gov. Murphy confirmed on Twitter that he was on the scene at the middle school on Thursday afternoon.
“Our hearts are broken by today’s tragedy,” Murphy said.