By Andrew Khouri
3:56 PM EST, January 10, 2013
At least 19 people were injured, two of them critically, on a New Jersey highway Thursday morning when a commuter bus collided with a school bus and then crashed into a tree, authorities said.
The New York City-bound commuter bus operated by Academy collided with the school minibus from behind as the school bus slowed to make a right turn, police in Old Bridge, N.J., told the Associated Press. The school bus flipped onto its side, landing on a backup power supply station.
The only people aboard the school bus, the driver and an aide, climbed out of an escape hatch in the roof, Timothy C. Brennan, interim superintendent for Old Bridge Township Public Schools, told the Los Angeles Times. He said the bus was on its way to pick up its first child.
Brennan said that when he arrived on the scene shortly after the accident, he didn't know whether any children were on the school bus. He saw the bus on its side and sparks flying near the fuel tank.
“That was an anxious moment,” he said.
A 31-year-old woman and a 42-year-old man on the commuter bus were taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and were in critical condition, a hospital spokesman told The Times. Seventeen people were transported to two branches of Raritan Bay Medical Center in stable condition, a hospital spokesman said. About seven of those were later discharged, he said.
Academy spokesman Joe Orlando identified one of those in critical condition as Daniel Jean-Pierre, the driver of the commuter bus. He told The Times that Jean-Pierre’s injuries were not considered life-threatening.
Orlando said more than 30 people were on the bus, which was heading to Wall Street.