A New Jersey Transit bus rear-ended a private bus carrying more than two dozen Canadian middle-school students in the Lincoln Tunnel Wednesday, leaving 31 people with minor injuries, authorities said.
The private bus, operated by Toronto, Canada-based Denny's Bus Lines, was carrying 26 students and two staff members, including a principal, who were visiting New York this week on an eighth-grade graduation class trip, when it was bumped in the Manhattan-bound center tube around 9:30 a.m.,the Toronto District School Board said. No one on the private bus was hurt.
About 60 people were believed to be on the NJ Transit bus at the time of the accident, a spokeswoman for the company said. The 31 injured included 30 civilians and one Port Authority officer, authorities said. All of the victims were taken to local hospitals, most of them with minor bumps and bruises, and some were transported to be evaluated as a precaution.
David Gomez, who rides that NJ Transit bus every day, told NBC 4 New York he was in the middle of the bus when he saw the accident about to happen and braced himself. He said most people on the bus weren't prepared for the impact, and several people were bleeding.
Gomez had a bruised leg but was otherwise OK. He said traffic in the tunnel was stop-and-go at the time of the collision.
Afterwards, people were seen walking out of the tunnel and being carried out on stretchers as FDNY crews headed back into the tunnel with more emergency equipment.
One woman gripped two emergency responders for support as she walked out of the tunnel on the New Jersey side; she appeared wobbly on her feet and was struggling to walk in a straight line. Another woman escorted from the tunnel held a hand over her heart as she made her way to an ambulance.
Other people walked out of the tunnel on the Manhattan side, where they had to wait for ambulances. The FDNY wasn't notified to respond until 50 minutes after the accident because it was apparently on the New Jersey side of the tunnel, and the Garden State handled the initial emergency response.
It wasn't clear how long people were caught in the tube. Authorities said those stuck in the tunnel included two pregnant woman on a bus that was not involved in the accident; one of the women went into labor and was taken to a hospital, where she was expected to be OK. The other pregnant woman refused medical attention, authorities said.
The center tube was shut down for several hours and Chopper 4 showed several vehicles reversing out of the center tube as authorities diverted Manhattan-bound traffic to the south tube.
Delays of up to 90 minutes were reported at the tunnel. Traffic flowing into New Jersey appeared to be moving smoothly. Authorities said they anticipated no residual problems for the evening commute.
The Port Authority says no summonses have been issued at this point and its investigation team is continuing to work on the case. NJ Transit referred queries on the crash to the Port Authority, but said the bus operator was taken out of service pending the results of the company's investigation.
Brian Denny, owner of Denny's Bus Lines, confirmed his company's bus was involved in the accident but had no further comment.