Volunteer counselors from Farmingdale and neighboring school districts will provide support at a crisis center at Howitt Middle School over the weekend following the Farmingdale High School bus crash. NewsdayTV's Shari Einhorn reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

This story was reported by Bart Jones, Brianne Ledda and Craig Schneider. It was written by Schneider.

People of all ages, devastated by the bus crash that killed two women and injured dozens of Farmingdale students, came together Friday to grieve and support one another — hanging school-green ribbons from trees, planning fundraisers for victims and their families, and posting prayers and sweet memories on social media.

Together, these expressions revealed the big, broken heart of Long Island.

Farmingdale High School band director Gina Pellettiere and band chaperone Beatrice Ferrari were killed — and dozens of members of the marching band were injured, including five critically — when a bus on its way to a Pennsylvania band camp Thursday crashed down a 50-foot ravine and overturned, authorities said.

By Friday morning, sorrow reverberated far beyond the hallways of Farmingdale High School, where students and staff exchanged hugs and received grief counseling.

Superintendent Paul Defendini urged everyone in a note to, "Stay together, stay strong, and we will get through this together."

A somber, mournful mood permeated the school, science teacher Cordelia Anthony said. A morning announcement let students know that counselors, including many from other schools, were available. Counselors brought in a therapy dog, which visited students in the band who had gathered, she said.

"A lot of hugs," Anthony said. "Students who were on the buses were really struggling … They saw their friends covered in blood, taken in ambulances. They're traumatized."

A crisis center will open Saturday and Sunday at Howitt Middle School in Farmingdale, Defendini said.

All day and into the night Friday, students and parents — several wearing green and black — came to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial of two white crosses with blue hearts on a sidewalk corner outside the high school. People, some crying, many hugging, added their names and lit candles in front of them, leaving more than 50 messages.

Some placed flowers on a tree behind the memorial, which held a banner saying, "We love you so much." Some wore marching band T-shirts and struggled to light tea candles despite a strong breeze. Later a green heart was placed saying, "Dalers," the school color and community nickname, and Friday evening, about 60 people came together for a brief, silent vigil. 

Some of the students expressed hesitation about taking the bus home Friday and were picked up by their parents, including 11th-grader Rudra Patel. Her mother, Reshma Patel, left work to get her at the end of the school day.

Patel, 42, said she feels less certain about allowing her daughter to take a bus for school trips. "It's very sad," she said.

Overall, Friday was an emotional day at school, said 17-year-old Jake Innes. "Everyone was saying, 'Rest in peace, Mrs. P, you were a great teacher,' " Innes said.

Ralph Ceraso, 76, lives across from the school and said, “It’s just devastating that children have to be subjected to that kind of trauma. It’s devastating to the whole community."

Pellettiere, 43, had taught music for close to two decades. She had led her musicians for more than a decade on trips to perform at Rockefeller Center and state and county music contests.

"The news we received today still hasn't fully sunk in yet, but I need to vent. Ms P has been someone very important to me since I met her in our district's Summer Music program back in 4th grade," wrote Richie Kevan, who graduated in 2016, in a Facebook post. "I've never met a teacher more passionate about her students who took such an active role in so many of our lives."

Ferrari, 77, whom some called the grandmother of the school band, had retired from teaching history for more than 30 years history, but still served as a chaperone on band trips. 

"She was Mrs. Pellettiere's right hand," said her daughter, Dina Lopresto, 44, of Farmingdale. "She had a big heart for all the students. She believed in you, and when she believed in you, you could reach the stars."

Farmingdale resident Kristin Hochbrueckner said she spent an hour Friday placing about 40 green ribbons up and down her street, Crestwood Boulevard, near the high school, in time for students to see as they left school. 

"At this time of need, any little bit goes a long way," said Hochbrueckner, 35. "I wanted them to see a little bit of school spirit as they were leaving."

The Farmingdale PTA said it  would set up a fundraising table offering ribbons at In Full Bloom, a Farmingdale florist, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 

Expressions of support came in from across the Island.

On social media, people posted messages of hope and sympathy. Many shared a picture of a big green heart that said "Dalers."

The East Meadow Moms & Dads group posted, "Asking for prayers … Heal and make possible the return of all our children."

The Northport-East Northport Tiger Marching Band, Tigerettes and flagline posted a photo of scores of students  holding a banner saying, "#Daler Strong, Farmingdale Marching Band." And Levittown school students were online urging their classmates to wear green in solidarity with Farmingdale.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino and Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand ordered county, town and village flags to be flown at half-staff beginning Saturday until sunset on the final day of interment.

Ekstrand, who had joined those gathered Thursday night as the five other band buses returned to the high school, said, "Here you have kids in a bus involved in a horrible accident … Some had compound fractures. I'm 68, and that would be difficult. You can imagine what it was like for a teenager."

He said the village is receiving "a ton of calls" from people wanting to help.

The school band community is close on Long Island, and many sent their love.

"As a band leader and a mom, I'm here today at school with a very, very heavy heart," said Lynn Cromeyn, the marching band director at Northport High School. She knew Pellettiere for more than 20 years.

"If you work in music education, it's not a job, it's your life, it's your calling," she said, adding of her friend, "She was a community builder, an ultimate professional. This is a loss for Nassau County, Suffolk County and music education overall."

People of all ages, devastated by the bus crash that killed two women and injured dozens of Farmingdale students, came together Friday to grieve and support one another — hanging school-green ribbons from trees, planning fundraisers for victims and their families, and posting prayers and sweet memories on social media.

Together, these expressions revealed the big, broken heart of Long Island.

Farmingdale High School band director Gina Pellettiere and band chaperone Beatrice Ferrari were killed — and dozens of members of the marching band were injured, including five critically — when a bus on its way to a Pennsylvania band camp Thursday crashed down a 50-foot ravine and overturned, authorities said.

By Friday morning, sorrow reverberated far beyond the hallways of Farmingdale High School, where students and staff exchanged hugs and received grief counseling.

Superintendent Paul Defendini urged everyone in a note to, "Stay together, stay strong, and we will get through this together."

A somber, mournful mood permeated the school, science teacher Cordelia Anthony said. A morning announcement let students know that counselors, including many from other schools, were available. Counselors brought in a therapy dog, which visited students in the band who had gathered, she said.

"A lot of hugs," Anthony said. "Students who were on the buses were really struggling … They saw their friends covered in blood, taken in ambulances. They're traumatized."

A crisis center will open Saturday and Sunday at Howitt Middle School in Farmingdale, Defendini said.

All day and into the night Friday, students and parents — several wearing green and black — came to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial of two white crosses with blue hearts on a sidewalk corner outside the high school. People, some crying, many hugging, added their names and lit candles in front of them, leaving more than 50 messages.

Some placed flowers on a tree behind the memorial, which held a banner saying, "We love you so much." Some wore marching band T-shirts and struggled to light tea candles despite a strong breeze. Later a green heart was placed saying, "Dalers," the school color and community nickname, and Friday evening, about 60 people came together for a brief, silent vigil. 

Some of the students expressed hesitation about taking the bus home Friday and were picked up by their parents, including 11th-grader Rudra Patel. Her mother, Reshma Patel, left work to get her at the end of the school day.

Patel, 42, said she feels less certain about allowing her daughter to take a bus for school trips. "It's very sad," she said.

Overall, Friday was an emotional day at school, said 17-year-old Jake Innes. "Everyone was saying, 'Rest in peace, Mrs. P, you were a great teacher,' " Innes said.

Ralph Ceraso, 76, lives across from the school and said, “It’s just devastating that children have to be subjected to that kind of trauma. It’s devastating to the whole community."

Pellettiere, 43, had taught music for close to two decades. She had led her musicians for more than a decade on trips to perform at Rockefeller Center and state and county music contests.

"The news we received today still hasn't fully sunk in yet, but I need to vent. Ms P has been someone very important to me since I met her in our district's Summer Music program back in 4th grade," wrote Richie Kevan, who graduated in 2016, in a Facebook post. "I've never met a teacher more passionate about her students who took such an active role in so many of our lives."

Ferrari, 77, whom some called the grandmother of the school band, had retired from teaching history for more than 30 years history, but still served as a chaperone on band trips. 

"She was Mrs. Pellettiere's right hand," said her daughter, Dina Lopresto, 44, of Farmingdale. "She had a big heart for all the students. She believed in you, and when she believed in you, you could reach the stars."

Farmingdale resident Kristin Hochbrueckner said she spent an hour Friday placing about 40 green ribbons up and down her street, Crestwood Boulevard, near the high school, in time for students to see as they left school. 

"At this time of need, any little bit goes a long way," said Hochbrueckner, 35. "I wanted them to see a little bit of school spirit as they were leaving."

The Farmingdale PTA said it  would set up a fundraising table offering ribbons at In Full Bloom, a Farmingdale florist, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 

Expressions of support came in from across the Island.

On social media, people posted messages of hope and sympathy. Many shared a picture of a big green heart that said "Dalers."

The East Meadow Moms & Dads group posted, "Asking for prayers … Heal and make possible the return of all our children."

The Northport-East Northport Tiger Marching Band, Tigerettes and flagline posted a photo of scores of students  holding a banner saying, "#Daler Strong, Farmingdale Marching Band." And Levittown school students were online urging their classmates to wear green in solidarity with Farmingdale.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino and Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand ordered county, town and village flags to be flown at half-staff beginning Saturday until sunset on the final day of interment.

Ekstrand, who had joined those gathered Thursday night as the five other band buses returned to the high school, said, "Here you have kids in a bus involved in a horrible accident … Some had compound fractures. I'm 68, and that would be difficult. You can imagine what it was like for a teenager."

He said the village is receiving "a ton of calls" from people wanting to help.

The school band community is close on Long Island, and many sent their love.

"As a band leader and a mom, I'm here today at school with a very, very heavy heart," said Lynn Cromeyn, the marching band director at Northport High School. She knew Pellettiere for more than 20 years.

"If you work in music education, it's not a job, it's your life, it's your calling," she said, adding of her friend, "She was a community builder, an ultimate professional. This is a loss for Nassau County, Suffolk County and music education overall."

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

Latest Videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME