TODAY'S PAPER
73° Good Morning
73° Good Morning
Long IslandNassau

What we know, don’t know about the Southern State bus crash

Several people on the bus were from Huntington High School, officials said.

The roof of the bus was torn away

The roof of the bus was torn away after it hit an overpass on the Southern State Parkway in Lakeview on Sunday night. Photo Credit: Lou Minutoli

What we know

  • A bus carrying 38 high school students and five chaperones crashed into a Southern State Parkway overpass shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday.
  • Most people on the bus were from Huntington High School, officials said.
  • The top of the bus hit the Exit 18 overpass at Eagle Avenue in Lakeview as it traveled east.
  • Two people — 17-year-old women — were seriously injured, five others had moderate injuries and three dozen had minor injuries, State Police said.
  • The students were traveling from Kennedy Airport after a spring break trip to Europe with EF Tours and were headed to the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station to meet their parents.
  • Troy D. Gaston, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was identified as the bus driver. Gaston “obviously wasn’t aware of the parkway system” and its restrictions on commercial vehicles, State Police Maj. David Candelaria said Sunday night.
  • Gaston was using “a noncommercial vehicle GPS device,” police said. The GPS indicated he took the Belt Parkway to the Southern State, Candelaria said. Investigators “still need to verify the actual route through a forensic analysis of the device and passenger interviews,” police said in a news release.
  • The driver had no trace of alcohol in his blood and testing was underway for drugs, Candelaria said. No charges have been filed.
  • The bus was from Irvington, New Jersey-based Journey Bus Lines.
  • The bus company has a safety rating of “satisfactory,” and has not had any crashes in the past 24 months, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified of the crash but won’t conduct an investigation, a spokesman said.
  • The Eagle Avenue overpass has a clearance between 7 feet, 7 inches and 10 feet, according to signs on the overpass and eastbound Southern State. That’s among the lowest on the Southern State, police said.
  • The height of the bus is about 12 feet, according to the bus manufacturer.
  • The students range in age from 16 to 18 and attend various high schools.
  • Patients were taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside and Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. The injuries included one student with a neck-spine injury. Other injuries included broken bones, scrapes, bumps, and bruises, the hospitals said.
  • The driver was among 21 patients taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow in “noncritical condition,” NUMC president and CEO Dr. Victor Politi said Monday morning.

What we don’t know

Why the driver was using a noncommercial GPS or whether he had been trained to use a GPS system that warns truckers away from routes with low overpasses.

Latest Long Island News