NJ-run Tour Bus in ‘Horrible’ PA Turnpike Crash that Killed Five
An Ohio-bound tour bus, registered to a Morris County-based company, was involved in a "chain reaction" crash with several tractor trailers along the Pennsylvania Turnpike that killed five people and injured dozens, according to first responders.
The highway crash happened around 3:40 a.m. Sunday in Westmoreland County, close to 30 miles east of Pittsburgh.
Stephen Limani, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Police Troop A, said at a press conference Sunday afternoon that the bus was carrying passengers with Z & D Tour of Rockaway.
The company's physical office along Route 46 was closed Sunday and calls to their phone number were picked up by an answering machine.
TribLive.com reported that at least two New Jersey brothers were injured in the bus crash, according to a third brother, Omeil Ellis of Irvington. Ellis told a reporter that Anthony Ellis was in surgery Sunday afternoon, while a 17-year-old brother was in stable condition.
PA State Police said at least three area hospitals treated a combined total of more than 50 people with injuries from the massive crash.
Limani said the bus had left from Rockaway headed for Cincinnati when asked at the press conference if it had left from Chinatown in New York City. The New York Times reported that a man identified as the bus owner said it had left from Canal Street.
The same report said Chen Dan Yu told the NY Times that the bus had been carrying 56 passengers and was headed to multiple destinations in Ohio. Yu said tickets had been sold through "Ohio Coach."
Limani said the westbound bus was headed downhill on a curve when it struck an embankment. The wreck was then hit by two tractor-trailers, followed by at least another truck and a passenger car.
Photos from the scene show a mangled collision of vehicles, including the overturned bus, two tractor-trailers and a smashed FedEx truck, which had dumped packages along the highway.
“It was kind of a chain-reaction crash," Limani said, who also said two passengers suffered critical but non-life-threatening injuries, while the remaining injuries were also less serious.
”I haven't personally witnessed a crash of this magnitude in 20 years," Pennsylvania Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo told WTAE-TV, calling it the worst accident in his decades-long tenure with the turnpike. “It's horrible."
Many of the bus passengers appeared to be tourists who spoke primarily languages other than English, according to Limani, who said the language barrier was an initial challenge to the victim identification process.
The National Transportation Safety Board announced Sunday that it sent a team of more than a dozen to investigate.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report