A school bus with dozens of children on board overturned on the New Jersey Turnpike near the Goethals Bridge Thursday afternoon, backing up traffic for at least a mile as emergency response crews attended to the crash.
The students, mostly fifth-graders, from Yeshiva Mevakshei Hashem in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn were returning from their biggest field trip of the year when their bus suddenly tipped on the northbound ramp to the Goethels Bridge. Chopper 4 over the scene showed an emergency exit flipped open on the top-facing side of the bus.
The area is a heavy merge point for vehicles, including trucks and buses.
State police say 40 people were on board the bus; four students and one adult had minor injuries.
The bus was carrying students from Yeshiva Mevakshei Hashem in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.
A boy on board the bus, Shraga Stroh, recounted the impact to reporters: "The wheel came onto something and then it came off, and it flipped. I got out of the door because it was open, and I got out."
"I didn't know what was happening. The middle kids went flying down to the end, and the whole bus was turned over."
There was a heavy emergency response at the scene, with multiple ambulances and fire trucks stopped on the highway. The response backed up traffic as the evening rush was getting underway.
Back at the school, notified parents anxiously waited to pick up their children.
"Between hearing that a bus turned over and actually knowing what happened, those are very, very long seconds," said board member Fishel Schacter.
A school board member on the bus said the students were eager to help each other in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
"You know, it's something we try to work on very hard at school. At the end of the day, we try to be there for each other. If we're there for each other, we can pull together in a crisis," he said. "The kids were running around to see if anyone was hurt: 'Can I help you?' The kids knew exactly how to open the emergency doors and windows."
It was the second school bus crash in the Garden State in less than a month. On May 17, a school bus packed with fifth-graders from a middle school in Paramus crashed on Interstate 80 near exit 25 in Mount Olive Township, killing a teacher and a student.