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Two people have died after a bus carrying students from a Long Island high school crashed on Interstate 84 near Middletown.
At a press briefing at New York State Police Troop F headquarters in Middletown Thursday evening, officials said 44 people — four adults, 40 students — were on their way to a band camp in Pennsylvania when the bus they were riding in rolled down a 50-foot ravine in Wawayanda.
Gina Pellettiere, 43, of Massapequa; and Beatrice Ferrari, 77, of Farmingdale were killed in the crash. As of Thursday evening, at least five students were listed in critical condition.
"Certainly there are families grieving today," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
What caused the bus to crash
The bus was one of six in a caravan carrying students from Farmingdale High School to the camp in Greeley, in northeastern Pennsylvania.
NYSP Lt. Colonel Richard L. Mazzone, assistant deputy superintendent, said a preliminary investigation indicates a failure of a front tire on the bus may have contributed to the crash.
Victims were taken to six area hospitals, and a Family Reunification/Information Center was established for the families of the victims at the SUNY Orange County Community College in Middletown.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," Mazzone said.
Where the crash took place
The crash occurred in the town of Wawayanda, New York, roughly 100 miles northwest of Farmingdale.
Both lanes of I-84 were closed shortly after 1:30 p.m. Thursday, and New York State Police anticipated the lanes near exit 15A would be closed "for several hours." Westbound traffic remained shut down Thursday evening.
Farmingdale students "had a weekend planned of fun and enjoying their musicianship," Bruce Blakeman, Nassau County executive said, "and unfortunately the day ended in tragedy for so many."
"The only advice I can give to anybody tonight is hug your children very tight," he said. "Life is very precious."
This article originally appeared on Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: What caused NY bus crash? Preliminary investigation details released