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Bus overturns in Bronx; 14 dead

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Fatal tour bus crash in New York
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Police are interviewing driver of another vehicle that was traveling near the area
  • 7 passengers were extracted by removing seats and cutting a hole cut in the roof
  • The tour bus was on the New England Thruway in New York City
  • Eight people suffered severe injuries, police say

New York (CNN) -- At least 14 passengers died early Saturday after the driver of their tour bus lost control of the vehicle and struck a pole on Interstate 95 in the Bronx, New York police said.

The accident occurred about 5:30 a.m. at the Bronx-Westchester County line, and forced the closing of I-95 in both directions until late Saturday, police said. Along with those who were killed, eight of the 31 passengers suffered severe injuries and were transported to area hospitals with the remaining survivors.

The bus driver, Ophadel E. Williams, 40, of Brooklyn was also taken to an area hospital with "non-life-threatening injuries," police said.

Police have not determined the cause of the accident, which is now the subject of a criminal investigation, according to New York State Police Troop Commander, Major Michael Kopy.

Williams said he was cut off by a truck driver which caused his bus to swerve into a guardrail, flip on its side and smash into a pole that cut through two-thirds of the vehicle. Kopy said police have recovered a tractor-trailer that was traveling through the area at the time and interviewed the vehicle's driver.

However, Kopy said it has not been determined whether the vehicle was involved in the accident. Kopy also said that police had received reports that the bus was traveling "at a high rate of speed."

Investigators are examining Williams' background and testing his blood for the presence of alcohol, Kopy said.

Kopy also said a video camera had been recovered from the bus, but that investigators had not yet viewed it.

Survivors reflect on fatal NYC bus crash

At least seven passengers had to be extracted by removing seats and cutting a hole in the remaining roof.

Most of the passengers were thrust to the forward third of the bus as it split open, suffering injuries mainly from the chest up, Fire Chief Edward Kilduff said.

At least five people being treated at New York's St. Barnabas Hospital suffered skull and spinal fractures, internal bleeding and broken bones, Dr. Ernest Patti told reporters.

"Our -- and the entire city's -- prayers, thoughts and sympathies are with the victims, and their families and loved ones," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a written statement Saturday. "Many of the victims are Chinese, and we have brought in translators to help assist the families."

The National Transportation Safety Board said it has deployed a 16-member team to investigate the crash, as the bus was traveling south on the New England Thruway near the border of Westchester and the Bronx -- one of New York City's five boroughs.

It had departed from the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

CNN's Susan Candiotti and Monika Plocienniczak contributed to this report.

 
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