TOBYHANNA, Pa. (AP) – A charter bus taking Italian tourists to Niagara Falls collided with a tractor-trailer on a Pennsylvania highway on Wednesday, killing the bus driver and two other people on the bus and leaving four people in critical condition, authorities said.
The crash occurred on Interstate 380 in the Pocono Mountain region 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.
It appeared from a wide swath of grass scraped away in the median that the tractor-trailer was southbound when it crossed over the divided highway and into the path of the northbound bus. State police said a second tractor-trailer was involved but they were still investigating what led to the Wednesday morning accident.
Monroe County coroner Robert Allen, who confirmed the three deaths, said there were 17 people aboard the bus. Italian tour operator Viaggidea said there were 16: 14 passengers, a tour guide and the driver.
The bus owner, Academy Bus, identified its driver as one of the three dead. It said the driver had more than a decade of experience with the company, but it declined to comment further.
More than a dozen people were injured and taken to hospitals, where most were being treated for mild to moderate injuries. Allen said the truck driver 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.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)