Bus Carrying Disabled Seniors Collides with Truck, 2 Dead
WINSLOW TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ A small bus carrying disabled senior citizens collided with a truck on a rain-soaked rural road, killing two bus passengers and injuring 14 other people, police said.
The mini-bus was carrying staff members and clients of the Berlin Senior Care Center when it was struck by an ice truck traveling in the opposite direction on County Road 536 near Sicklerville. The front of the bus was crushed and mangled.
Two women among the 13 passengers on the bus were killed, said township Patrolman Tom Linardo. They were identified as Sallie Smith, 90, of Atco, and Aileen Cline of Sicklerville. Smith was a client at the center and Cline, a volunteer.
The injured, including the bus driver and the driver and a passenger in the truck, were taken to four hospitals. At least 11 patients were reported in critical condition Friday night.
The bus, owned by Moorestown-based Senior Care Centers of America, was equipped with lap belts but the passengers were not wearing them, nor was the truck driver, Linardo said. The trucker and his passenger were thrown from the vehicle in the crash.
Larry Tophan was pumping gas at a nearby station when he heard the crash.
″When I turned around all I saw was that big truck come down on that bus,″ said Tophan. ″I totally went into shock. ... I’ve seen accidents here every time it rains but nothing with fatalities like that.″
Hours later, as rain washed blood from the pavement, debris from the vehicles and pieces of clothing littered the grass and bushes alongside the road. Rescuers had smashed windows and ripped out seats to get to injured bus passengers.
Linardo said the driver of the Mack truck apparently lost control, but it wasn’t immediately known why, or how fast the two vehicles were traveling. The truck is owned by Forte Corp. of Berlin, Linardo said.
The trucker was identified as Thomas Langon, 31, of Sicklerville, and the bus driver, Angelo Zarro, 60, of Somerdale.