A Pine Hill Trailways bus with 52 passengers, traveling south on I-81 around 2:30 a.m., slammed into a car that had just crashed into a guardrail, The Associated Press (AP) reports. The bus then hit the rear of a tractor-trailer whose driver had pulled onto the shoulder to offer assistance to the car’s driver.The bus driver and 26 passengers were injured, officials said. It took emergency crews two hours to extricate the driver from the bus’s smashed-in front end, deputies said. The bus driver, Kelvin Sharpe Sr. of Buffalo, was in critical condition at a Syracuse hospital, the AP reports. The injured passengers, suffering mostly minor injuries, were taken to area hospitals.
The car’s driver, 36-year-old Robert Tarbell of Nedrow, has been charged with driving while intoxicated. He was being held in the Onondaga County Jail on $15,000 bail, the AP reports.
According to the Onondaga County Sheriff’s office, one of the responders, the bus left Toronto on Wednesday evening and was supposed to arrive in New York around 6:30 a.m. Thursday. The uninjured passengers were taken to Syracuse’s bus station. Some boarded another bus for Manhattan; others arranged transportation home. Southbound lanes of I-81 were closed until shortly before 5:30 a.m.
Passenger Robert Johnson, who had boarded the bus in Rochester, was awake at the time of the crash but many of the other passengers were asleep, according to the AP. “All I heard was a boom and my head hit the seat; I mean mad noise, it was crazy,” Johnson said.