NEW YORK — A New Jersey Transit bus rear-ended a private bus carrying Canadian schoolchildren inside the Lincoln Tunnel today, injuring more than 30 people and slowing traffic on one of the busiest routes for commuters entering and leaving New York City, authorities said.
The crash happened at around 9:30 a.m. in the centre tube on the New York side of the tunnel connecting it with New Jersey, said Joe Pentangelo, spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police, which operate the tunnel.
None of the 26 students and two adults from the Toronto school was hurt, according to Anna Caputo, spokeswoman for the Toronto District School Board. The group was heading to New York for a graduation trip, she said.
As for the transit bus, Pentangelo said 35 to 40 people were hurt, and the four most severely injured had neck and back injuries. The Fire Department of New York said 31 people were taken to hospitals with injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening.
A 32-year-old woman also went into labour while stuck in the tunnel. She was taken to a hospital.
There were approximately 60 riders on the New Jersey Transit bus heading from Cresskill, New Jersey, to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the transit agency said. At least two people were taken out of the tunnel on stretchers and two others walked out with the help of emergency personnel. People with bloody noses were being treated at a triage station set up outside the tunnel.
Jaehoon Chung, a carpenter who was going to work on the New Jersey Transit bus, said the impact of the crash felt like a minor collision.
He said the passengers were stuck on the bus for ten to 20 minutes because the door was damaged.
“We couldn’t get out. The door was bent,” he said. “Everyone was calm. We all waited until a cop came.”
There are delays of up to one hour heading into New York. The two lanes of the centre tube in the tunnel were reopened before noon.
The Port Authority says 42 million vehicles a year travel through the tunnel. The tunnel comprises three tubes built beneath the Hudson River.