Tour Bus Overturns on Upstate Highway, 30 Hurt

Bus crashed and flipped amid heavy rains.

Thursday, Aug 4, 2011  |  Updated 8:50 AM EDT
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A tour bus mainly carrying Polish tourists was going too fast during a downpour when it crashed and flipped over on an upstate New York highway, leaving 30 people with minor injuries, authorities said.

State police Sgt. William Ramsing said 14 people were treated and released at a hospital after the Wednesday night accident. They included a woman who was trapped beneath the bus. Emergency crews dug the woman out from underneath the bus and she apparently didn't suffer any serious injuries, troopers said.

"They had to actually dig the dirt underneath the bus to free the lady," state police Sgt. Todd Burdick told WBNG-TV in Binghamton.

He told the Press and Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton that heavy rain and speed too fast for conditions caused the accident, which occurred around 7:10 p.m. Wednesday on a rural stretch of Interstate 81 near Whitney Point, about 15 miles north of Binghamton.

The bus was traveling from Niagara Falls to Trenton, N.J., when it left the highway's southbound lanes and traveled down an 80-foot grassy embankment before overturning and landing on its roof in a gully, Burdick said.

Burdick told the newspaper that it was raining heavily at the time and there was a half-inch of standing water on the road.

Authorities said in addition to the driver and a tour guide, the bus was carrying 28 passengers, most of them tourists from Poland. Ambulances transported some of the injured to Binghamton-area hospitals, while the others were taken to a local fire house.

Police said the bus was licensed to Princeton Holdings Inc. of Morrisville, Pa., which also owns the company that operated the tour, Trenton-based Amerpol Tours.

M.J. Stawowezyk, the tour company's general manager, said the group arrived in Niagara Falls Tuesday afternoon and spent the night in a hotel on the American side of the falls.

Stawowezyk told The Associated Press Thursday morning that the group spent Wednesday visiting tourist attractions on both sides of the falls before boarding the bus for the return trip to Trenton. He said all the passengers have been brought back to New Jersey via transportation provided by the tour company.

Stawowezyk said his company specializes in U.S. sight-seeing trips for Polish tourists. He said he believed most of those on the bus were Polish nationals, although he didn't know exactly how many.

The southbound lanes of I-81 were remained closed until around midnight.

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