More than 40 people have been injured after a bus hit an overpass on a major highway on Long Island.
The charter bus was traveling on the Southern State Parkway in Hempstead just after 9 p.m. when the collision occurred. Officials described it as a “mass casualty incident.”
“The impact to the overpass was significant. It wasn't just a bump. If you look at the bus from the side it's got substantial damage...substantial damage,” New York State Police Major David Candelaria said.
The bus was traveling from John F. Kennedy Airport with 38 high school students and 5 chaperones onboard. They had just returned from a European trip for spring break and were headed to a local mall where the teenagers were being reunited with their parents.
One of the victims suffered very serious injuries, five others have serious injuries and 37 others suffered minor injuries.
"As information continues to trickle in about a bus load of young high school students crashing n the southern state parkway, we pray for all those hospitalized and their families. A lot of questions need to be answered," Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen said on Twitter.
Candelaria says it appears the driver of the bus was unfamiliar with the road. Commercial vehicles are banned on the road and the minimum clearance on the parkway is 7 feet, 10 inches.
“This driver is not from the Long Island area. I don't know if he's from New Jersey, Pennsylvania. so he obviously wasn't aware of the parkway system,” Candelaria said.
An investigation continues. Officials said it could have been even worse.
“We’re very lucky. This could have been tragic. We’re very lucky,” Candelaria said.