New York State Police

Investigators Describe Chaotic Scene of NY Thruway Tour Bus Crash

"This is something I have never seen in terms of the number of people injured," a local fire chief said

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Authorities continued to investigate a bus crash that left 57 people injured, as first responders described a chaotic scene as they rushed to pull people from the wreck.

The tour bus bound for Niagara Falls ran off the New York State Thruway west of Syracuse and rolled over Saturday afternoon, sending more than 50 people to hospitals.

Area first responders rushed to the scene, including firefighters from Port Byron who were in the middle of a celebration of the department’s 150th anniversary.

The bus landed on its side in the grass on the highway's westbound side. Almost all of the bus's windows had been blown out, Port Byron Fire Chief Corey Rooker told

“You could tell when you saw the tracks it left that the bus had been on quite a ride,” Rooker said. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years. This is something I have never seen in terms of the number of people injured.”

Many of the injured appeared to be families with small children, Rooker said. First responders from a number of local units were aided by Good Samaritans who stopped to help, including one person who dropped off a dozen first-aid kits, he said.

All 57 people aboard the bus were taken to area hospitals including the driver, identified as Fermin Vasquez, 66, of Wingdale, New York. The bus was operated by JTR Transportation of Poughkeepsie.

State police were investigating the cause of the crash and hadn't speculated why the bus veered off the highway.

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