Federal authorities are investigating the crash of a Toronto tour bus that overturned on a highway in Wayne, New Jersey and careened down an embankment injuring 23 Grenadian passengers en route to a religious convention in Brooklyn.
The bus is said to have flipped onto its side at an Interstate 80 exit ramp about 25 kilometres northwest of New York City on Saturday.
Officials at the US Federal Motor Safety Carrier Safety Administration are reportedly even investigating whether the bus company could legally operate in the United States.
State troopers also indicated that it will take at least a fortnight before they determine what caused the tour bus to lose control and skid off the ramp.
According to New Jersey State Police Sergeant Adam Grossman, “The investigators are going to look at everything.”
“They’re going to look at road conditions, weather, traffic; they’re going to look at if there were any mechanical issues with the bus, look at the driver,” he said.
Neville Larmond, the driver of the bus at the time of the accident, told authorities that he veered off the highway after he was cut off by another vehicle.
“If that’s the statement he gave, that will be something we will investigate and try to corroborate any witness statements,” Grossman said.
According to investigators, the bus was rented by a Toronto-based company called Cynthia’s Bus Tours from AVM Max 2000 Charter Services Inc.
But US Department of Transportation records show that a company registered under the name AYM Max 2000 Charter Services Inc. did not have “current operating authority” in the US and is listed under the same Toronto address as AVM Max 2000 Charter Services Inc.
Officials said that the accident sent 23 of the 57 passengers on board to hospital, eight with critical injuries.
“We are so saddened and disappointed,” Maureen Isaac, secretary of the Grenada New York Adventist Organization in Toronto, lamented.
Isaac told reporters that convention organizers were anticipating over 100 Seventh Day Adventists from three Toronto churches, including the Toronto Central Adventist Church and the Grenada Toronto Community Network (GTCN).
She said the buses had left Toronto early Saturday morning heading for the 2012 Grenada New York Adventist Organization convention at George Wingate High School in Brooklyn.