A devastating bus crash has left a Long Island, New York community reeling. On September 21, 2023, a bus carrying Farmingdale High School students to a band camp in Pennsylvania crashed and rolled off Interstate 84 in Wawayanda, New York, killing Gina Pellettiere, 43, of Massapequa, and Beatrice Ferrari, 77, of Farmingdale. Forty others sustained injuries in the bus crash, including five students in critical condition.
The fatal crash happened at approximately 1:15 p.m. local time when the bus, transporting dozens of students and four adults, veered off the highway and tumbled down a 50-foot ravine. As news of the tragedy spread, New York Governor Kathy Hochul expressed her condolences and acknowledged the profound grief of the families, the school, the district, and the entire state. Governor Hochul mentioned a possible connection between the fatal bus crash and a defective front tire but emphasized that the investigation was in the early stages. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in collaboration with the New York State Police, will be leading the probe.
A spokesman with the New York State Department of Transportation told reporters that the bus was operated by Nesconset, New York-based Regency Transportation. Records indicate that the bus driver was properly licensed, and the vehicle had passed its most recent inspection.
Timothy A. Loranger is an attorney and senior partner at Wisner Baum who has been representing bus accident victims for years. He says the investigation will include other potential causes in addition to the reported tire issue.
“Investigators will be looking at the actions of the driver, the maintenance records for the bus to see if there are any anomalies, and they will be interviewing the survivors to learn more about the circumstances,” Loranger says, adding that if the report of the tire issue proves accurate, “this could become a product liability case against the manufacturer, among others.”
“We are sending our heartfelt condolences to the Pellettiere family, the Ferrari family, the students and their families, and the Farmingdale High School community. They deserve answers that only a comprehensive investigation can provide.”
Authorities Identify the Deceased as Farmingdale HS Band Director Gina Pellettiere and Devoted Chaperone Beatrice Ferrari
Gina Pellettiere and Beatrice Ferrari held integral roles within the Farmingdale School District and were beloved in the community. Fondly referred to as “Miss P” by her students, Pellettiere served as the high school marching band and wind ensemble director. When parents would tell her she had a great job, she would agree, saying, “What’s better than teaching kids my passion?” Pelletiere leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter.
Beatrice Ferrari was a devoted chaperone and retired social studies teacher. In a letter addressed to parents, the school district described Ferrari as the "heart and soul" of the marching band program who dedicated the majority of her 36-year teaching career to Farmingdale High School. Ferrari's daughter, Dr. Angela Ferrari-Aldieri, spoke of her mother's immense impact, noting how her classroom was conveniently situated near the band room where she dedicated so much of her time and care.
Ferrari's involvement with the band went beyond her professional responsibilities; she fostered deep connections with the students who gave her the endearing moniker, "Grandma Bea." Her warmth and openness made her a confidante for many young musicians, a role she embraced wholeheartedly.
The Farmingdale School District announced that counselors would be available to support students and staff alike in the aftermath of the crash.
What Caused the New York Bus Crash?
It will likely take a year or more before the NTSB is able to determine the cause of the crash. While a front tire has already been cited as a potential issue, officials will need to look at a host of other factors, including the actions of the driver and more.
The bus accident lawyers at Wisner Baum have a long history of representing crash victims and their families. We have litigated 100+ bus accident cases across the United States and abroad. In one case, the firm represented over two dozen passengers harmed in a crash.
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