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UPDATE: one killed, several injured in charter bus crash

One person was killed and several others injured in a charter bus crash on the Northway Friday morning, according to New York State Police.

Police said 55 passengers were on the bus traveling from Three Rivers, Quebec to New York City when the bus went off the side of the road and overturned in the median.

New York State Police Major Richard Smith said that two families on vacation, also from Canada, saw the crash happen and were the first to help.

"Each family risked their own safety to travel into the median and did everything they could to assist at the scene," he said.

State Police said Chelssy Mercier, 14, of Quebec was killed when she was at least partially ejected from the bus and then trapped underneath it. Witnesses tried to help save her.

"Numerous individuals, passerbys, witnesses, assisted the state police with getting the bus off that individual and life saving measures were attempted," said Major Smith.

But he said, Mercier didn't make it. Her mother was also traveling on the bus.

"Once we got the notification it was 53 people, or somewhere around 53 people, then we activated a MCI plan," said Patty Bashaw, Essex County Emergency Medical Services Coordinator.

That mass casualty incident plan brought U.S., Canadian, state and local officials together. French interpreters were brought in to help as many of the victims speak French.

Bashaw said everyone was taken to the hospital as a precaution. She said 41 were considered walking wounded patients, 10 were injured, but not critically, and three needed to go to the hospital immediately.

Police said patients were taken to area hospitals including Glens Falls Hospital, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, Fletcher Allen Health Care Medical Center and Elizabethtown Community Hospital.

State Police said the cause of the crash is still under investigation. But Major Smith said there is no reason to believe, right now, that there was an issue with the driver's credentials.

"He has been the subject of inspections in two states in the past year that have been documented and in all three of those inspections, he passed those inspections," said Major Smith.

He said those inspections are normal for commercial vehicles operating in the United States.

State Police said the company that owns the bus is Autobus Fleur De Lys, out of Quebec. CBS6 looked up the company's inspections on the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website and found it has a satisfactory rating and has not had any fatal crashes or crashes with injuries in the past two years.

Major Smith said New York State Police will inspect the bus, interview the driver, the witnesses, and the passengers and look at the black box.

"The black box is going to give us some indication of what was going on; speed, whether the brakes were initiated, etc. at or about the time of the crash," said Major Smith.

A spokesperson for the company that owns the bus said its sympathies go to the family of the teenager who was killed.

He said that the bus had been hired by a travel agency, but that the driver works for the bus company.

The spokesperson said the 61-year-old driver, whose name has not been released by police, has decades of experience driving, has no tickets against him, had a clean record and has been with the company for two years. The spokesperson said the driver was well rested.

The trip was planned to go to New York City Friday and to return Sunday evening.

The company is trying to get passengers who are released from the hospital back home.

State Police said that Canadian officials are helping to get passengers home as well.
 
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