Congers, NY Train - School Bus Wreck, Mar 1972

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa CONGERS NY

Train Hits School Bus; 3 Killed.

CONGERS, N. Y. (UPI) - A Penn Central freight train smashed into a school bus at a crossing here today, killing at least three children and injuring 40 others, many critically.
The train sliced the bus in two, dragging part of it 1,000 feet along the tracks and strewing children along the way, police said.
The bus was carrying students from the South Congers area to Nyack High School when it was struck by the train shortly before 8 a. m., police said.
Patrolman DON COCKER of the Clarkstown police said five of the injured students had limbs amputated in the accident and at least 40 injured students were taken to Nyack Hospital.
Anguished parents crowded the hospital lobby as mothers sobbed, "Is my child here?"
COCKER said police had been unable to question the driver, who was also hospitalized, but it was believed the bas was moving when it was struck by the train at a crossing marked with a sign but without crossing barriers.
Two students were pronounced dead at the scene, police said, and a third died later at a nearby hospital.
NED MEARA, who lives near the crossing, said the bus was "a tangled mess of steel" after the collision with the three-engine, 83-car train.

The Daily Messenger Canandaigua New York 1972-03-24


Downstate Bus-Train Crash Kills 3 Pupils.

CONGERS, N. Y. (AP) - A freight train rammed into a school bus at a rural grade crossing Friday, killing three high school pupils and injuring 47 persons, eight of them critically. Bus wreckage was scattered along the track for a quarter mile.
Local and federal investigators launched an investigation into the tragedy, pegged initially to a determination whether the bus had stopped at the crossing.
Two of the youngsters were killed when pinned under the train and one died en route to a hospital. Five of the injured were reported in serious condition, some with loss of limbs.
At Nyack Hospital where all seven operating rooms were in use, TIMOTHY WILKINS, 16, one of the 50 passengers on the bus, described the scene:
"All of a sudden, someone yelled, 'Train.' I looked up and the train was there. I heard the train brakes and I heard the engine - that's all you could hear. I just couldn't believe it. It was unreal."
Young victims, twisted wreckage, books and lunches were scattered around the scene, in Rockland County some 25 miles northwest of New York City.
Volunteer firemen swarmed to the scene in response to a mutual aid alarm. They used earth-moving equipment and acetylene torches to clear the debris and free the victims.
A spokesman for Penn Central said the accident took place at 7:55 a. m., at what he described as a private crossing, with no warning gates, lights or bells.

The Troy Record New York 1972-03-25

The listing of the fatalities:
THOMAS GROSSE, 14, died early Monday after the Friday accident.
All resided in the small hamlet of Valley Cottage, N. Y.


Gilchrist Road Disaster

My sister survived that crash with serious traumatic injuries. I was an 11 year old kid and most of those victims were neighbors. Applewood was a suburban paradise and the crash was the first taste of death many of us kids ever had. It was like an apple blossom spring newsreel with a freight train bursting through the screen and plowing into the audience. It's still a painful dark presence in my chest that is still strongly there if I look at it.

A schoolgirl in Nyack that walked home for lunch came back and told me there was a terrible bus crash with horrible carnage. I remember being brought to Bradley Bob and Mr Pelletier's office not knowing what was going on. My father picked me up and we went to the crossing where the severed back end of the bus was still laying by the tracks. We then went to Nyack hospital where we saw the triage. Father Eisler was there. I remember him saying I was a man now or such. My sister was on morphine but stable. John Fletcher's entire face was one solid scab. I still remember that. My cousin had seriously crushed legs but after months of traction recovered. The hospital was morbid and in full disaster mode with many lives undecided. That night the Clements sent us a casserole so we wouldn't have to cook.

The Viet Nam War was still going on so somehow the death and destruction and helicopters sort of created a zeitgeist that's hard to explain. I remember exploring the Chinook military helicopter that landed at Nyack High School to volunteer blood donations. It was tough associating with friends whose brothers had died. You didn't know what to say and it was like a black spirit that was to be avoided. You couldn't imagine the hell it must have been for them. I remember Bobby Mauterer's wake in Nyack with his grandmother repeating "Bobby, Bobby, what has happened to my Bobby" in the background. Looking from an adult perspective, a lot of people were probably affected deeply by that tragedy.

I was sitting next to Bobby's brother on the grammar school bus that went through Valley Cottage. I saw the green light on the signal and told him "Look, a train is coming". A few minutes later it would kill his brother unbeknownst to either of us.

From George Vreeland Hill

I grew up in Rockland County and remember this very well.
It was a shock to everyone there and it has been burned into our minds to this day.

George Vreeland Hill