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Wall Street Journal / News

Student, Teacher Killed After N.J. School Bus and Truck Collide

A student and a teacher were killed and dozens injured when a school bus carrying fifth-graders on a field trip collided with a dump truck on a New Jersey highway.

Emergency personnel responded to a crash after a school bus and truck collided in Mount Olive, N.J., on Thursday.

PARAMUS, N.J.—A student and a teacher were killed and dozens injured when a school bus carrying fifth-graders on a field trip collided with a dump truck on a New Jersey highway Thursday.

The bus was transporting 38 students and 7 adults, from the Paramus East Brook Middle School to the historic Waterloo Village. Both drivers and the passengers were taken to six area hospitals, and some were in critical condition and undergoing surgery Thursday afternoon, said Gov. Phil Murphy, who visited the school.

“Tough day here in Paramus,” said Bergen County Executive James Tedesco. “Sixty-five years I’ve lived in this town and it’s difficult to stand here today and talk about our education community suffering so deeply.”

The crash occurred on Interstate 80 westbound near Exit 25 in Mount Olive Township at about 10:20 a.m., authorities said. There were two other school buses as part of the fifth-grade outdoor-education trip that returned to the East Brook Middle School where the students were reunited with their parents.

Alan Fulton, 48 years old, who lives in the area, walked to the scene a few minutes after the accident and said it was “as horrific as you thought it would be with a bus full of kids ripped off the frame.”

The bus was owned by the school district and was equipped with seat belts, Paramus Superintendent of Schools Michele Robinson said.

Schools will be open on Friday and crisis counselors will be on hand to assist students and staff, but all field trips are canceled for the remainder of the school year, she said.

Little else was known Thursday about the cause of the crash. Mr. Murphy referred questions to the New Jersey State Police and Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, which are investigating the crash. A state police spokesman said the department wasn’t yet releasing the identities of the teacher and student who were killed.

About 715,000 students ride school buses in New Jersey daily, according to the state Department of Education. That figure doesn’t include children transported for school-related activities such as field trips or sports.

Photos from the crash scene show the school bus on its side, completely torn from its undercarriage and with its front end sheared off. The front of the truck is similarly crushed.

Emergency personnel examined a school bus after it collided with a dump truck on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive, N.J., on Thursday.

Children and adults could be seen sitting on the grassy median of the highway.

Frank Iossa, a 39-year-old heating technician, was driving by soon after the crash when he saw motorists had stopped to help students get out of the bus windows, so he did too. Some children had deep cuts, he said.

“They were crying, they were screaming,” Mr. Iossa said. “Some were scared…They were nervous about where their friends were.”

Mr. Iossa, a father of four from Parsippany, let several children use his cellphone to call their parents. “One little girl was talking to her dad and she said, ‘I love you daddy,’ and a tear came to her eye. It was so sad.”

Mr. Iossa said he did what he could to calm the students, and reassured some parents by phone that their children weren’t hurt.

One 11-year-old boy was worried about the girl he had been sitting next to, and asked “ ‘Where’s my girlfriend? I can’t find her,’ ” he said.

Emergency workers were giving children colored tags. Students with white ones got on a van to Paramus, while those with yellow and red tags were transported to hospitals. Mr. Iossa said he saw police cover the body of a woman with a white blanket or sheet.

“One young man asked me if there is still school today,” he said, “I said no.”

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