WATERLOO, N.Y. (AP) - A tractor-trailer crashed into a tour bus carrying about 50 people across central New York early Friday, killing the truck driver and sending at least 20 people to the hospital, state police said.
State Police Sgt. Thomas Burroughs said getting an exact count of the injured in the fiery wreck was difficult because some were taken by helicopter to hospitals in the Rochester area while others went by ambulance and some by private vehicle.
There was no immediate word on their condition. State police say the driver of the truck was killed. The crash happened about 1:30 a.m. in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90, at the northern edge of the Finger Lakes region. Both vehicles caught fire after the crash.
WSYR-TV reports that state police say a U.S. soldier from New York's Fort Drum who came upon the scene pulled some people from the burning bus. Waterloo is midway between Syracuse and Rochester. The crash follows one on Sunday that killed 2 people and injured 35 others about 45 miles west of Friday's crash scene.
In that tour bus accident, police said it appears a tire blowout caused the bus to veer off the road and flip over. On Tuesday, a car sideswiped a van full of Amish farmers only about 30 miles away, pushing the van under a tractor and killing five of the farmers. So far this year, 32 people have been killed and 323 injured in 17 tour bus accidents, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. That's more than in all of 2010, when there 30 killed and 272 injured in 28 crashes.
Tour bus industry safety has drawn heightened attention since the March 12 crash of a bus returning to New York City's Chinatown after an overnight excursion to a Connecticut casino. Fifteen people were killed when the bus flipped onto its side and struck a pole, peeling off its roof. A passenger has said the driver fell asleep; the driver has said he was alert and well-rested. That crash is being investigated by state police and the National Transportation Safety Board. State Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said there have been about 3,000 surprise bus inspections throughout the state since the March crash.
During that period, 304 drivers and 238 buses have been taken off the road. The state does 160,000 bus inspections every year. In January 2005, a bus chartered by a Canadian women's youth hockey team rammed a parked tractor-trailer along I-390 near Geneseo, about 30 miles north of Sunday's crash, killing four people. Investigators determined the driver's lack of sleep and inexperience led to the crash.