MOUNT OLIVE, N.J. (CBS/AP) – Two people were killed after a dump truck and school bus collided in Mount Olive, Morris County on Thursday morning.
The crash left the bus lying on its side on the guardrail of Interstate 80 in Mount Olive, its undercarriage and front end sheared off and its steering wheel exposed. Some of the victims crawled out of the emergency exit in the back and an escape hatch on the roof. More than 40 people were taken to hospitals.
Fifth-grade student Theo Ancevski, who was sitting in the fourth row of the bus and was treated at a hospital for cuts and scrapes, said he heard a scraping sound and the bus “toppled over.”
More than 40 others were injured and taken to hospitals.
“A lot of people were screaming and hanging from their seatbelts,” he said.
Gov. Phil Murphy said one adult and one student were killed. Their names had not been released. Murphy said the truck driver was hospitalized, but officials didn’t reveal his condition.
The front end of the red dump truck was mangled in the wreck, which took place about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of New York. The truck was registered to Mendez Trucking, of Belleville, and had “In God We Trust” emblazoned on the back of it.
The bus had entered westbound Interstate 80 from southbound U.S. Highway 206, police said. Cleanup crews loaded its wreckage onto a flat-bed truck on Thursday night as they cleared the roadway.
Police didn’t release details of how the crash happened, but the trucking company had a string of crashes in recent years and a higher than average rate of violations that sidelined its vehicles, according to federal safety data.
There were 45 people, including 38 students, on the bus.
The crash took place at around 10:30 a.m. on I-80 westbound near Exit 25 and Route 206.
The bus was on its side on the median and the front end appears to be crushed or ripped off.
“I have never seen anything like that. I can only describe it as horrific,” Mount Olive Mayor Robert Greenbaum told CBS New York.
The wreck, which happened about 50 miles west of New York, remains under investigation.
Records revealed the truck is registered to Mendez Trucking of Belleville.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the company has about 40 drivers and trucks.
Its trucks had been in seven crashes over the last two years before Thursday’s crash.
None of them was fatal.
The bus is owned by the Paramus School District and did have seat belts.
Back at the middle school, parents rushed over to find out if their child was okay.
“My daughter told me the girl is feeling better,” said Beatrice Martinez, whose granddaughter was injured in crash. “She’s got a broken arm.”
Paramus schools superintendent Michele Robinson said the district was cancelling school trips for the rest of the year.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)