New York Tour Bus Crashes Near Rochester

New York Tour Bus Crashes Near RochesterA bus carrying Indian tourists was traveling from Washington D.C., to Niagara falls when it crashed into a median of trees in western New York on Sunday, July 16, killing two passengers and injuring 35 more, The Associated Press reports.

According to the news source, the accident occurred on Interstate 390 at about 4:15 p.m. in Avoca, New York, in Steuben County. A preliminary report has been issued by the New York State Police stating that a tire blowout may have been the cause of the accident, although the investigation remains to identify an official cause.

New York State Police spokesman Mark O’Donnell told the AP that interviews of the driver and the passengers are underway, and that investigators believe the bus driver lost control about 55 miles southeast of Rochester and slid down a bank on the shoulder of the highway into the woods.

The crash killed two people, and three passengers were airlifted to local hospitals where they are in guarded condition. The passengers who sustained the worst injuries were transported to Strong memorial Hospital in Rochester, while eight others were taken to Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville and the rest were taken to other regional hospitals, according to the media outlet.

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico told the news source that 58-year-old bus driver John Dinardo Jr. had no previous driving violations of criminal activity, and his log book was organized.

“There is no evidence of any excess speed, of any alcohol, of any driver fatigue or of any other violation,” D’Amico said. “We believe it was just a blowout of the right front tire, but the investigation is continuing.”

Dan Ronan, a member of the American Bus Association, spoke with the driver, and learned that the tires had been replaced a few months prior, and that the bus was a model from 2007, USA Today reports.

According to the news source, Ronan said that the bus company scored high on a federal inspection that was completed in February of 2010, earning a rating of “satisfactory,” which was the highest of three possible grades. Twelve vehicles from the company’s fleet of 19 were inspected and found to be in “good working order,” but it is unclear whether the bus from Sunday’s accident was one of the 12 inspected.

One of the women who died in the crash has been identified as Sakina Kiazar, age 52, from New Delhi, India. A 66-year-old woman was also killed, although her identity is pending on the notification of relatives.

This crash is the latest in a series of tour bus crashes that have taken place in the country beginning on March 12, when a bus returning to Chinatown in New York City crashed after picking people up from a casino in Connecticut. The bus rolled off a highway and landed on a utility pole, killing 15 passengers when the roof was peeled off, the AP stated.

It is suspected that driver had fallen asleep prior to the crash, but the driver contests that he was awake and well-rested. The March crash is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

According to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, 32 people have been killed this year and 323 have been injured in 17 tour bus accidents, already surpassing 2010’s entire fatality and injury rates in bus accidents, rising from 30 deaths and 272 injuries in 28 crashes, the AP reports.