A teenage girl died and more than 50 people were injured when a Canadian tour bus skidded off Interstate 87, broke through a median guard rail and rolled on its side down a steep embankment in northeastern New York.
State Police said a 14-year-old Chelssy Mercier of Trois Rivieres, Quebec, was tossed through a smashed front windshield and pinned beneath an edge of the bus. She was freed by passersby but died later at the scene as first responders arrived. She was traveling with her mother.
The bus was en route to New York City for a three-day tour. It originated in Quebec City, with stops in Trois Rivieres and Montreal. The accident occurred about 7:30 a.m. Friday beneath a blue sky on a stretch of the highway known as the Adirondack Northway south of Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Investigators said they do not know what caused the 61-year-old driver to lose control of the bus. They said there were no apparent skid marks on the highway. He was unhurt and taken to the State Police barracks for questioning.
The bus carried 56 passengers, mostly college students and their relatives. There were broken bones and lacerations but no life-threatening injuries. The injured were taken to five area hospitals.
Witnesses said passengers struggled out of the bus through the smashed windshield and a roof hatch. Several motorists who saw the accident stopped to help.
Stephane Donnelly, his wife, and their son, Mathieu, joined others in helping to lift the edge of the bus off the the trapped teen victim. The Donnellys said they were also able to assist about 15 people get out of the bus.
From Montreal, the Donnellys said they spoke to the injured passengers in both English and French.
“The people were in shock,” said Mathieu Donnelly, 17. “They were shaking, and there was a lot of blood. Some had more serious injuries.”
The youngest passenger was 6, the oldest 54, but most were in their 20s. State Police Maj. Richard Smith said there were no seat belts on the bus.
The Donnelleys were traveling in a black pickup truck behind the bus, heading for vacation in Florida. Mr. Donnelley said the bus passed a car at the usual highway speed, about 65 miles per hour, then “it veered to the left.”
Smith said the 2008 Prevost bus was owned by Fleur de Lys Bus Co. of Quebec. He said investigators will extract data from the bus’s black box, which will provide information about brake use and speed of the vehicle.
Kim Smith Dedam is a reportewr for the Plattsburgh, N.Y., Press-Republican.