What Caused the Bus Crash?

By Haley Burton

August 4, 2011 Updated Aug 5, 2011 at 12:12 AM EDT

Whitney Point, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The investigation continues into what caused a bus crash on Interstate 81.

New York State Police say Albert B. Moore Jr., 30, of Bensalem, Pa., was driving the bus, which is licensed to Princeton Holdings of Morrisville, Pennsylvania.

The crash happened around 7 p.m. Wednesday just south of the Whitney Point exit, near mile marker 28.

The bus went off the west side of the road, down an embankment and rolled onto its roof.

Thirty people were on board the bus. It was carrying 28 tourists from Poland who were on a trip from Niagara Falls traveling to Trenton, N.J. A tour guide was also on board with Moore driving the bus.

State Police say most of the passengers were able to get out themselves. One woman had to be freed by rescuers after being pinned under the vehicle.

Nineteen people were taken to area hospitals. Spokespeople for Wilson Medical Center, Binghamton General Hospital and Lourdes Hospital say all patients involved in the crash have been treated and released.

Captain Eric Janis says State Police are working closely with the State Department of Transportation. A safety inspection is being conducted on the bus.

New York State Police say they are looking at everything that may have contributed to Wednesday's crash in Whitney Point, but the investigation could take awhile. Speed and weather could have been factors in the crash.

"At the time of the accident, there was a heavy downpour right here which contributed to it. Half an inch of standing water on the roadway," said Sgt. Todd Burdick of the New York State Police said on Wednesday night.

This is the third bus crash in Upstate New York in the last three weeks.

On July 22, two people were killed and dozens taken to the hospital in a bus crash in Cohocton.

On July 17, one person was killed and twenty others taken to hospitals after a bus crash in Waterloo.

"The types of accidents you see with buses rolling off highways, these are not the run of the mill accidents you see with any kind of vehicle where one car bumps into another. This is something where the driver is losing control of the bus," said Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the U.S. and Canada.

In response to the series of fatal bus crashes this year, Congress has introduced the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2011.

"The Motorcoach Safety Act really is something that address physical conditions of the bus and ignores physical condition of the driver. They're going to put seatbelts in buses, have studier frames. But that's not going to stop the accidents from happening," said Hanley.

The ATU want an amendment added to the Act that would address driver fatigue, which is the largest cause of motorcoach crash fatalities, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Hanley says if driver fatigue is addressed in bus legislation, bus safety could be complete and more effective.

Under the ATU's proposed reforms, drivers would get paid overtime for the hours they put in over 40 hours a week.

The Department of Transportation will have a National Motorcoach Safety Summitt on September 23 in Washington D.C. An action plan will be developed to increase motorcoach safety awareness, enforcement and education.

Red Cross Help

The Red Cross set up a shelter for victims at the Chenango Fire Station in Castle Creek.

There, a triage unit was waiting to treat passengers, and ambulances were ready to take the more seriously injured to hospitals here in the Binghamton area.

The Red Cross says many of the victims' clothes had been torn during the accident, so the Wal Mart in Vestal donated 25 pairs of sweat pants.

The tour bus company transported people to their homes, and the Red Cross says the shelter was closed before morning.