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Bus with inmates overturns; minor injuries

RAMAPO, N.Y. -- A bus carrying 16 inmates and three prison staffers from the city to an upstate prison overturned Wednesday on the state Thruway, causing some minor injuries, officials said.

All the prisoners were secured, said Sharman Stein, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Correction. She said there was no evidence they had caused the crash in an escape attempt.

"It was a traffic accident and nothing more than that," Stein said.

State Police Capt. Evelyn Mallard said the bus apparently had been cut off by another vehicle.

The passengers were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, where spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said security precautions were in place.

The prisoners who came in were "appropriately handcuffed," Marshall said, and "they are being triaged in a separate area from our regular emergency department."

Marshall said 11 prisoners and the three staffers had already been seen, and all injuries were minor. None of the passengers were likely to be admitted, she said.

Northbound traffic on the Thruway, which is also Interstate 87, was at a standstill after the 10:30 a.m. crash. Police closed the northbound lanes and traffic quickly backed up for miles toward the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge.

The white Correction bus lay on its side across two of the three lanes, surrounded by police, fire, medical and prison vehicles. It was pulled upright about 12:30 p.m.

Stein said the bus was heading north when it overturned in Ramapo, about 25 miles north of the city.

The accident occurred as the inmates were being returned to Ulster Correctional prison, a medium-security facility, in Wawarsing, Stein said.

They had been in city jails temporarily for court appearances, she said.

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