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Cops: Pickup driver killed, 2 critical in bus crash

Rescue workers remove a trapped occupant of a

Rescue workers remove a trapped occupant of a bus after the chartered vehicle and a pickup truck collided early Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Roslyn Heights. Nassau County police are investigating the accident. Photo Credit: Lou Minutoli

The driver of a pickup was killed in a collision with a charter bus in Albertson Tuesday morning, Nassau County police said.

A 60-year-old man who drove the Coach USA bus and his only passenger, a 38-year-old man, suffered serious injuries and were taken to a hospital, where they were listed in critical condition, according to police. They have not been identified by police.

The driver of the 2006 Dodge Dakota pickup was identified as Facundo R. Ponce, 43, of Glen Head.

Insp. Kenneth Lack, a Nassau police spokesman, said witnesses told police the pickup driver was traveling south at excessive speed on Roslyn Road near Heathcote Drive at about 9 a.m., when the truck crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed nearly head-on into the northbound bus.

"It appears the 2006 Dodge may have crossed the double yellow line going southbound," Lack said. "It was almost in a head-on collision with the bus." The bus then careened into a tree, he said.

Lack said the accident investigation was in the preliminary stages. The pickup was impounded for safety inspections, while the bus "was inspected and released," police said in a news release.

A woman who identified herself as Ponce's sister declined to comment when reached at home by phone Tuesday night.

A North Shore attorney who witnessed the crash and requested anonymity said the driver of the pickup passed her on the right just before the accident.

"He lost control of his truck and went into a spin," she said. "In the spin, his truck crossed the yellow line and [went] into the bus."

She said the engine compartment of the pickup caught fire.

Sean Hughes, a spokesman with Coach USA North America, said the bus is operated by ShortLine, one of Coach USA's companies.

The Patchogue-bound bus left New York City at 7:15 a.m. with one passenger. Hughes said the company's thoughts are with those involved.

Lack said the driver of the Coach USA bus tried to turn right to avoid the collision, and that's when the bus hit the tree.

The front of the bus was pushed against a large tree in an area near the fenced backyard of a home.

It was the second fatal crash on Roslyn Road in the past two months. Two 19-year-old Mineola men were killed last month when their car struck a curb and then a tree in the backyard of a Roslyn Heights house.

With Gary Dymski

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