Dozens injured when bus hits overpass on Southern State Parkway

Posted: Updated:
OCEANSIDE -

A bus slammed into an overpass on the Southern State Parkway Sunday night, injuring dozens of high school students on their way home from a trip to Europe.

Police say the impact sheared off the bus's roof and hospitalized the driver and 43 others. It happened around 9 p.m. in the eastbound lanes near Exit 18 for Eagle Avenue in Lakeview.

The bus was carrying 38 passengers between 16 and 18 years old and five adult chaperones. They were on their way home from John F. Kennedy Airport following their overseas school trip. The plan was for the students to meet their parents at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington.

MORE: Dozens injured when bus hits overpass on Southern State Parkway

Doctors at South Nassau Communities Hospital say the situation could have been a lot worse. They say most of the injured people have already been discharged, but two students remain in their care.

"There were several very basic needs, some bumps and bruises," says Dr. Joshua Kugler of South Nassau Communities Hospital. 

On the more severe end, some victims suffered broken bones, including spinal bones, he says.

New York State Police are leading the investigation into what happened.

VIDEO: News conference on Southern State Parkway bus crash

Police say the driver of the bus, 43-year-old Troy D. Gaston, of Pennsylvania, was using a GPS device not designed for commercial vehicles. Being unfamiliar with the area, police say he did not know of the parkway's height limits.

Tall vehicles are not allowed on the parkway due to its low overpasses. The Eagle Avenue bridge, which the bus struck, has a clearance of just 7 feet, 7 inches.

"I am surprised that there were no fatalities," Dr. Kugler says. "I think everyone was very fortunate."

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