MOUNT GRETNA, Pa. – A St. Louis-bound Greyhound bus that overturned on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, sending 14 people to the hospital, was the latest in a series of bus accidents in the Northeast this year.
The bus from New York City stopped in Philadelphia and had traveled about 75 miles westbound on the turnpike when it overturned at about 6 a.m. Saturday on the way to a stop in Columbus, Ohio.
The driver, identified as 24-year-old Kareem Edward Farmer of Philadelphia, lost control of the bus while traveling in the passing lane, sending the vehicle careering across the highway and up an embankment before it landed on its side on the interstate, briefly trapping a woman, authorities said.
Unlike most of the other bus crashes along the East Coast in 2011, this one involved a commercial carrier, not a chartered tour bus or a smaller operator. More than 30 people have been killed and more than 300 injured in tour bus accidents this year, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. That's more than in all of last year, when 30 were killed and 272 injured in 28 crashes.
The front end of the St. Louis-bound bus struck a concrete barrier and the left rear side rode up against the barrier, according to state police. The bus then crossed over the travel lanes, struck an embankment and traveled up the embankment before flipping over on its left side.
Twenty-nine people, including the driver, were aboard, said Greyhound spokeswoman Maureen Richmond, though a turnpike spokesman said he had information that the total might be 25 because of possible duplicates on the driver's manifest.
Officials at three hospitals said 14 people altogether were brought in, and at least 12 were treated and released. Four uninjured passengers were picked up by another bus; the conditions of the others were unclear.
The accident was Farmer's first in the eight months that he has worked for Greyhound, said his father, Derrick Bivins. Richmond declined to discuss Farmer's safety record.
Bivins, 46, said he had only had brief telephone conversations with his son after the crash about what happened, and that Farmer had suffered a head laceration and cut on his arm.
"He's OK, with some stitches. He wasn't able to inform us on anything else," Bivins said. His son had no other health problems, he added.
Farmer had previously driven a tanker truck used to refuel airplanes at Philadelphia International Airport, Bivins told The Associated Press outside the family's Philadelphia home.
Both westbound lanes of the turnpike were closed for more than four hours, forcing drivers to be rerouted off the interstate. Traffic had been backed up for about three miles while crews worked to upright the bus, DeFebo said.
A man working in a farm shop nearby heard the accident, his father told the Lancaster Sunday News.
"It wasn't a bang, just a slide," said the father, Walter Zeiset.
Tour bus industry safety has drawn heightened attention since the March crash of a bus returning to New York City's Chinatown after an overnight excursion to a Connecticut casino. Fifteen people were killed when the bus flipped onto its side and struck a pole, peeling off its roof.
The federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it was working with state police in their investigation. A spokeswoman referred further questions to state police.