Three remain in hospital after Toronto bus overturns
Workers check out a bus which overturned coming off at an exit ramp on Route 80 in Wayne, N.J. Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. The chartered tour bus from Toronto carrying about 60 people overturned on an interstate exit ramp. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Published Sunday, October 7, 2012 8:15AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 7, 2012 4:35PM EDT
WAYNE, N.J. -- U.S. state troopers say it will be some time before they know exactly what caused a Toronto tour bus to flip over onto a New Jersey interstate exit ramp Saturday, injuring nearly two dozen passengers.
"The investigators are going to look at everything," New Jersey state police Sgt. Adam Grossman said Sunday.
"They're going to look at road conditions, weather, traffic. They're going to look at if there were any mechanical issues with the bus, look at the driver."
Twenty-three people -- including two children -- were taken to several area hospitals for non-life-threatening injuries after the packed motorcoach bus flipped over, slid down a grassy embankment and landed on its side on an Interstate 80 exit ramp in Wayne, N.J., around 7:45 a.m. Saturday.
Liz Asani, a spokeswoman at St. Joseph's Healthcare System in New Jersey said as of Sunday, three patients remained in hospital in "fair condition." She could not say when they might be released.
The bus driver, identified as Neville Larmond, 51, of Brampton, Ont., reportedly told police he had been cut off by another driver just prior to the crash.
"If that's the statement he gave, that will be something we will investigate and try to corroborate any witness statements," said Grossman.
According to police, the bus was carrying 57 passengers travelling with a Toronto-based company called Cynthia's Bus Tours, which had rented the transportation from AVM Max 2000 Charter Services Inc.
Online records with the U.S. Department of Transportation show that a company registered as AYM Max 2000 Charter Services Inc. had "no current operating authority" in the United States.
Both companies list the same Toronto address and phone number.
The department records also showed that AYM Max 2000 had been cited for five fatigued driving violations, including one related to a driver last May for working for more than the permitted 11 hours.
The citations date back to April 2011.
Multiple phone calls to the Toronto-based chartered bus company and the U.S. transportation department were not returned Sunday. Someone who picked up the phone at Larmond's Brampton, Ont., residence hung up on a reporter.
Grossman said he didn't have the authority to confirm whether the two companies were one in the same.
On Saturday, passengers recounted waking up to chaos and the sound of shattering glass windows.
Norma Cumberbatch, 66, of Toronto told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that she had to free herself from fallen luggage and other debris while trying to find her sister.
The sister, 68-year-old Marjorie Cumberbatch, said other passengers were screaming and crying around her.
Three people were pinned underneath broken windows and had be freed by emergency crews. The majority of the injuries sustained were cuts, bruises, and soreness.
A large number of the passengers on board the bus were Seventh Day Adventists headed to an annual convention in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.
Bernadette Thomas, vice-president of the Grenada New York Adventist Organization, said the one-day convention took a moment to acknowledge their injured members during the event Saturday night.
Thomas said she spoke with three women who were on the bus who were able to attend despite their injuries. One of the women had a bandaged hand.
"They were kind of quiet. They looked a little nervous," she said. "I mean, who wouldn't? You just had an accident and you survived it. Who wouldn't (look nervous)?"
Thomas said the convention is attended by hundreds each year, including those from the Toronto area who usually charter a bus or drive down by themselves.