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Two people killed after a charter bus full of high school students careened down a ravine in upstate New York have been identified as two beloved female teachers.
Farmingdale High School marching band director Gina Pellettiere, 43, and retired history teacher Beatrice Ferrari, 77, were killed in the crash, police said.
Pellettiere, who reportedly played 20 instruments, has been described by ‘devastated’ students as ‘a role model, an influential music teacher, and beloved friend’.
Meanwhile Ferrari, who taught at Farmingdale on Long Island for more than 30 years continued to serve as the school band’s ‘grandmother’ by chaperoning trips, according to Newsday.
But tragedy hit the school’s latest trip at around 1.30pm on Thursday after their bus – carrying four adults and 40 pupils – overturned ten miles from the nearest exit on the two-lane highway close to the Orange County town of Wawayanda.
Farmingdale High School marching band director Gina Pellettiere, 43, (left) has been named as one of the people killed in the New York bus crash on Thursday afternoon
Pellettiere, who reportedly played 20 instruments, has been described by ‘devastated’ students as ‘a role model, an influential music teacher, and beloved friend’
Tragedy hit the school’s latest trip after their bus – carrying four adults and 40 pupils – overturned ten miles from the nearest exit on the two-lane highway close to the Orange County town of Wawayanda at around 1.30pm on Thursday
Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, confirmed the deaths on Thursday evening and described it as ‘a day of terror’ for the 44 people – four adults and 40 students – on board.
She said a faulty front tire ‘likely contributed to the accident’ which saw the vehicle topple 50 feet down a ravine.
It was leading a convoy of six buses carrying 300 students, mainly ninth graders, from Farmingdale to the marching band camp music event at Pine Forest in Greeley, Pennsylvania.
‘I have lost a role model, an influential music teacher, and beloved friend, Ms. Gina Pellettiere,’ one student said
The bus appears to have left the busy roadway about 75 miles north-west of New York City and toppled down an embankment before coming to a rest on its side in a heavily wooded area.
One Farmingdale student and band member paid touching tribute to the teachers lost in the accident.
‘I’m devastated for the students, the faculty, and the families of Farmingdale.
‘We have lost two beautiful souls in the Farmingdale music community,’ he said on Facebook.
‘I have lost a role model, an influential music teacher, and beloved friend, Ms. Gina Pellettiere.
‘I will miss you forever, and never forget the impact you have made on me, and countless others.’
He shared heartwarming photographs of the teacher holding a bouquet at band events with students, and embracing one pupil during an outdoor class.
Nassau Music Educators Association described Pellettiere as ‘highly regarded and adored’.
Retired history teacher Beatrice Ferrari, 77, was remembered as ‘the glue of the family’ by her daughter Dina Lopresto, 44. Ferrari had been chaperoning the school trip
The charter bus carrying school students to band camp toppled off an embankment in New York state. The cause of the crash is still unknown and the National Transportation Safety Board said it was monitoring it
‘Her warm smile, infectious laugh, incredible story telling ability, passion for life and talent at her craft will be greatly missed by all who knew her personally and professionally,’ the group said.
A woman of many talents, Pellettiere was also ‘a great skier and golfer’, according to Garden City Ski Club, who shared a photograph of her giving a thumbs-up while sat on a sunny slope.
Meanwhile Ferrari’s daughter, Dina Lopresto, 44, told Newsday she had been ‘the glue of the family’.
Cordelia Anthony, a science teacher at the high school, said Ferrari was a ‘wonderful history teacher,’ and had chaperoned the band for years.
‘We were informed that there had been an accident with Bus 1 on route to Greeley, PA for band camp,’ Farmingdale School District said in a statement
‘Police and emergency responders on the scene, as well as district administration. We will provide another update when more information becomes available. We ask for your patience as we gather more details.’
Six passengers, all believed to be juveniles, were hospitalized in critical condition said Steven M Neuhaus, the county executive of Orange County.
A spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said that multiple law enforcement, emergency responders, and fire agencies had responded to the scene, which she described as the site of an ‘active investigation.’
A woman of many talents, Pellettiere was also ‘a great skier and golfer’, according to Garden City Ski Club, who shared a photograph of her giving a thumbs-up while sat on a sunny slope
Ladders were lifted to the toppled bus in a bid to reach passengers
Hochul said all 44 people on board were removed from the wreckage within 45 minutes.
The injured were taken to Westchester County Medical Center or Garnet Health Medical Center in Wallkill, with two Medivac helicopters assisting in the rescue effort.
Anthony Eugenio, a student, was in the bus and recalled it rolling over several times before it came to a stop.
He called his family to say he was a little banged up.
‘He said he is really sore. He’s got a big bump on his leg. He’s got blood on his pants from somebody else,’ his father said.
‘The person next to him was covered in blood.’
Anthony had to borrow a friend’s phone because he lost his in the crash.
‘It was pretty nerve-wracking,’ his father said.
‘When you get news like that and your son is two and half hours away — it’s pretty scary.’
‘I heard a lot of my friends are critically injured,’ one freshman told ABC7.
‘I’m not feeling too good right now.
‘Like, I usually take a bus. I don’t think I want to take a bus no more. That’s why I’m always cautious about going to trips, like for school on the bus.
‘Now, I don’t know if I want to, like, take trips no more. I feel sad. I just want to pray, want to pray. I want to know how my friends’ families are feeling. I’m all shaky and stuff because a lot of my friends were on that bus.’
Nassau Music Educators Association described Pellettiere (left) as ‘highly regarded and adored’, as her students wrote heartwarming tributes to their beloved teacher on Facebook
Helicopters pictured the scale of the effort to rescue the injured children
‘How are they going to recover from this?’ one parent told Fox29.
‘Please don’t let anybody be gone. These are my babies. They think they’re big and tough, but they’re babies.’
The bus carried the logo of the Regency Luxury Charter Bus Company from Smithtown, New York, and was about 100 miles into its journey to the annual four-day weekend camp.
‘We thought it was a joke,’ said a student whose friend had been flown from the crash site.
‘We didn’t think it was this serious. It’s horrible.’
The cause of the crash is still unknown and the National Transportation Safety Board said it was monitoring it.
The September trip to band camp is an annual tradition at the school which has 1,700 students.
It is attended by members of its marching band, color guard and kick line team along with adult chaperones.