TOBYHANNA, Pa. (AP) — A charter bus taking Italian tourists to Niagara Falls collided with a tractor-trailer that had crossed into oncoming traffic on a highway on Wednesday, killing the bus driver and two other people on the bus, police said. Four people were critically injured.
The crash occurred on Interstate 380 in the Pocono Mountains region in eastern Pennsylvania as the bus, which departed from New York, was about a quarter of the way to its first destination.
The mangled front end of the bus was upright on the highway but wedged into the side of the tractor-trailer, which was sheared in half. The cab of the truck came to rest on its side in the woods next to the road, one of its axles torn off.
The southbound tractor-trailer entered the northbound lanes of the divided highway, struck another truck and then was hit by the charter bus, said state police, who were investigating what caused the deadly chain of events Wednesday morning. A wide swath of grass was scraped away in the median.
Italian tour operator Viaggidea said there were 16 people on the bus: 14 passengers, a tour guide and the driver. Police said the driver, Alfredo Telemaco, of New York City, died at the scene along with two passengers.
The bus owner, Academy Bus, said the driver had more than a decade of experience with the company.
More than a dozen people were injured and taken to hospitals, where most were being treated for mild to moderate injuries. Monroe County coroner Robert Allen said the tractor-trailer driver, a Macomb, Oklahoma, man, didn’t appear to have been severely injured.
Viaggidea spokeswoman Simona Nocifora said she did not have any information on the passengers, including where they were from in Italy.
After sightseeing in New York, the group was headed to Niagara Falls, then Toronto, Washington and Philadelphia, before returning to New York, according to an itinerary for the eight-day trip.
The tractor-trailer was owned by the Xtra Lease company. The company’s attorney said officials did not know who was leasing the vehicle.
Johnny Walsh, who lives near the highway, told WCAU-TV that he heard a loud crash and “all of a sudden people were screaming.”
Pop singer Gloria Estefan suffered a broken vertebra when a tractor-trailer crashed into her tour bus on the same stretch of highway in 1990 while heading to a concert in Syracuse, New York.
Wednesday’s crash came less than a month after an Italian businessman died with seven other people when a speeding Amtrak train ran off the tracks in Philadelphia.
Associated Press writers Ron Todt and Josh Cornfield in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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