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57 injured after tour bus bound for Niagara Falls crashes on New York Thruway

FILE: FDNY ambulances are seen entering and leaving the emergency room at Queens Hospital Center, Monday, April 20, 2020, in the Jamaica neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A tour bus bound for Niagara Falls ran off the New York State Thruway and rolled over in central New York, sending more than 50 people to hospitals, state police and a hospital said.

The bus landed on its side in the grass around 12:40 p.m. along the highway’s westbound side near Weedsport, a village about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Syracuse. Some 57 people were aboard, and all were taken to hospitals for injuries ranging from minor to serious, state police said.

It’s unclear why the bus veered off the road, troopers said in a news release. Police photos showed papers and other items strewn around the white bus as it rested on the road shoulder.

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Authorities said that the driver of the JTR Transportation bus has been identified as Fermin Vasquez, 66, of Wingdale, New York. JTR is based out of Poughkeepsie, New York. State police said Vasquez was among those taken to a hospital but didn’t elaborate on Vasquez’s injuries.

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The bus was headed to Niagara Falls from Poughkeepsie in the Hudson Valley, local reports said.

Juan Gil-Urrego told WSYR-TV that his mother, Ximena Urrego, had arranged the trip, one of many she has planned to various destinations as affordable excursions for residents. The bus left around 6 a.m. on one of the last trips Urrego had organized for the summer, he said.

A few children were aboard, one possibly just a month old, Gil-Urrego said.

Click to play video: '4 taken to hospital following head-on collision on County Road 36 in Kawartha Lakes' 4 taken to hospital following head-on collision on County Road 36 in Kawartha Lakes
4 taken to hospital following head-on collision on County Road 36 in Kawartha Lakes – Aug 13, 2021

His mother was taken to a hospital with glass in her eye and needing back surgery, her son said, but he was just relieved she had survived.

“It’s a miracle,” especially since another relative survived a bus crash in the past, he said. “This time around, it hits me twice as hard to know that it happened to both of them already, and both of them made it.”

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Auburn Community Hospital received about 27 patients, including Vasquez, and was assessing their conditions, spokesperson Matthew Chadderdon said. Three were transferred to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. Upstate is the area’s top-level trauma center, a hospital especially equipped to handle serious injuries.

Upstate received 25 patients in all, spokesperson Darryl Geddes said. He couldn’t immediately provide information on their conditions.

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One westbound lane was closed until early evening, and traffic was backed up in one direction for eight miles (nearly 13 kilometers) at one point, the state police said. Authorities issued a request on social media for anyone who witnessed the crash to contact investigators.

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Associated Press news associate Joshua Housing in Munster, Indiana, contributed to this report

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