A tour bus returning from a casino flipped onto its side and skidded into a sign post in New York on Saturday, killing 13 people and critically injuring six others, authorities said.
The bus overturned on the New England Thruway in the Bronx near the Westchester County line at about 5:30 a.m. EST 10:30 GMT Saturday, a New York Fire Department spokesman said.
The driver, who survived, told police he lost control after being clipped by a tractor trailer. Police began a hunt for the truck, which did not stop after the crash, New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said.
The Worldwide Tour bus skidded into a sign pole on the southbound side of Interstate 95 at Exit 14 for the Hutchinson Parkway. The sign post sheared off the top of the bus along the window line, nearly two-thirds the length of the vehicle.
The bus was carrying 31 to 33 passengers, the fire department spokesman said. In addition to the fatalities, six passengers were critically injured and four have been transported to hospitals, while 11 others sustained minor injuries.
The wreck left a scene of carnage and closed the southbound side of Interstate-95 for hours while emergency workers attended to critically injured survivors and removed bodies.
The bus, operated by the charter company World Wide Tours, was headed to Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood carrying a full load of passengers returning from the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn.
Limo driver Homer Martinez, 56, of Danbury, Conn. happened on the scene just moments after the wreck and saw other drivers sprinting from their cars to see if they could assist the injured. He said they were horrified by what they found.
“People were saying, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God,’ holding their hands on their heads,” Martinez said. “I saw people telling other people not to go there, ‘You don’t want to see this.'”
Firefighters and medics were on the scene quickly, running to the vehicle with bags and stretchers, he said. “I see a lot of accidents. I’ve even seen accidents happen. But I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Martinez.
Fourteen of the hurt passengers were being treated at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. A hospital spokeswoman, Barbara DeIorio, said some of the injuries were serious, but she had no immediate information on how many were gravely hurt. Another five patients were taken to St. Barnabas Hospital.
The coach was operated by World Wide Tours, a company based in Gowanus, Brooklyn. A spokesman said it would make a statement later on Saturday. “Right now it’s too early to say anything,” he said.