Bus driver critically injured in NJ highway crash

AP News
Posted: Aug 24, 2011 6:11 PM
Bus driver critically injured in NJ highway crash

A bus traveling from New York City to Washington, D.C., collided with at least two tractor-trailers on the New Jersey Turnpike on Wednesday, critically injuring the bus driver and wounding about a dozen others, state police said.

Two of the more than 50 passengers on board were hospitalized in serious condition at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. State police said 14 others were transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

The driver was flown to the hospital, where a spokeswoman said he was being treated for multiple broken bones and was still bleeding.

State police initially reported the driver had died from his injuries, but Sgt. Brian Polite later said that was a mistaken report.

The crash occurred shortly after noon in the southbound lanes in South Brunswick. The cause remained under investigation.

Wednesday's incident followed a bad year for bus accidents in the United States that draw increased scrutiny to bus industry safety and driver fatigue. More than 30 people died in 18 crashes as of late July, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

The 52-year-old driver in Wednesday's accident was well rested before his shift and had slept in New York the night before, said Dan Ronan, a spokesman for the American Bus Association. Ronan said the driver had been a professional driver for 11 years.

"His safety record is very good," Ronan said. "He had a current commercial driver's license in Virginia with no violations. His medical certification is current."

The passengers on board had purchased tickets for travel from New York to Washington from curbside coach provider Washington Deluxe, Ronan said, but that company had contracted with Virginia-based DC Trails Inc. to operate the bus.

The bus left Brooklyn at about 11 a.m. Wednesday and made a stop in Manhattan before heading to Washington, Ronan said.

The turnpike and local roads suffered extensive delays after the crash, but the interruptions had cleared by late afternoon.