It happened just before 8:30 a.m. on Route 207, at Little Britain and Beattie roads, in New Windsor and involved a Little Britain Elementary School bus and a tree trimming truck equipped with a chipper owned by a local landscaping company.
Orange County Executive confirms children needed to be extricated from school bus this morning when it crashed with tree trimming truck. pic.twitter.com/rei4YIBJbf— Marcus Solis (@MarcusSolis7) October 21, 2020
A third vehicle was also involved, and Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus called it the worst school bus accident he'd ever seen.
"Horrific scene, young kids," he said. "School bus accidents are the worst."
Washingtonville Central School District spokesperson Nancy Kriz said local emergency services and district personnel quickly reported to the scene, and all parents were notified.
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There were eight children on board the bus, and seven of them were able to walk off and were taken to St. Luke's Hospital in Newburgh to be evaluated. The remaining student, a 6-year-old girl, was sitting directly behind the bus driver and had to be extricated.
Her uncle, Bill Campbell, said she was stuck on the bus for about an hour.
"She's got some trauma," he said. "She's tough kid. She was tough. She didn't cry a bit. She told the mom she did yoga breaths to stay calm for an hour while the fire department was trying to get out."
She is in critical but stable condition.
"The kid is tougher than anybody," Campbell said. "Six-year-old, what else can you do? Can't be too dramatic if a 6-year-old can handle it. She did well."
The bus driver, 74-year-old Andrew Sanchez, and the driver of the tree trimming truck, 25-year-old Ian Jennings, were also hospitalized in critical condition.
"We've been in contact with the hospital, they've received them, they're doing everything they can," Neuhaus said. "We're hopeful that everybody will recover. But it is a horrible, horrible accident, and I've seen many in my life. This is probably the worst I've seen."
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The cause of the crash remains under investigation, but police say the truck crossed the double yellow lines and struck the bus.
Superintendent Dr. Larry Washington and Principal Sagrario Rudecindo-O'Neill were at the hospital with parents and other district staff, and a crisis support team is onsite at Little Britain Elementary to assist students, faculty and staff.
Kriz said the district is very grateful for the rapid and professional response from all emergency service providers.
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