Bus crash victims return to Toronto 0
One of the passengers who had been pinned in a bus that had flipped over is removed on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance in Wayne, N.J. on Oct. 6, 2012. Up to eight people travelling from Toronto were taken to hospital in critical condition from the accident. (Amy Newman/NJ Record/QMI Agency)
Terrified bus crash victim Judith Burke suffered cuts, bruises and a swollen arm after fellow Adventist church members toppled on her as their bus slid off a New Jersey highway exit ramp.
“The pain is still there and I can’t move one hand,” the Toronto woman said before boarding another bus for the ride home on Monday. “People fell on top of me and I couldn’t move.”
She was among a bus load of Adventists who were heading back to Toronto to be greeted by church and family members at stops at Square One in Mississauga and in the Jane St. and Wilson Ave. area.
“Many of us are feeling pain and have bruises all over our bodies,” Burke said. “We are lucky to be alive and can’t wait to get home.”
There were 57 passengers on the coach when it crashed early Saturday injuring 23 people in New Jersey. Those hospitalized weren’t able to attend their destination — the Grenada New York Adventist Association convention in Brooklyn.
Only two people remained in a New Jersey hospital on Monday. They are expected to be released soon.
Jennifer Burke, who helped organize the trip, suffered a bruised rib. She described her ordeal as exhausting.
“Many of us didn’t get much sleep,” Burke said on Monday. “Thank God we are heading home.”
Joe Mitchell, of the Grenada Toronto Community Network, that had 17 members on board, said his group will look at ways to help crash victims pay for their U.S. medical costs.
“We will wait until they return and call a meeting,” Mitchell said. “We don’t know who had insurance or who had to pay what.”
Some passengers reported the bus began vibrating just before it crashed at an Interstate 38 ramp.
According to U.S. Department of Transportation safety records, the owner of the bus, Toronto-based AVM MAX 2000 Charter Services Inc., has fatigue-related driving infractions dating to April 2011. They include a May 2012 violation for requiring or permitting a driver to drive more than the U.S. government limit of 11 hours.
A spokesman for the Toronto chartered bus company told the Toronto Sun he didn’t have any information, before hanging up.
The driver, Neville Larmond, 51, of Toronto, told authorities that another driver cut him off. The bus slid down an embankment before coming to rest on its side.