Wrong way driver causes accident in NJ

May 2, 2010 3:50:33 PM PDT
A charter bus carrying 45 people - mostly children headed to a religious event - was struck in a multi-vehicle accident early Sunday that killed a driver on an interstate in northern New Jersey. State police say the driver of a Honda Civic - tentatively identified as a 37-year-old Bethlehem, Pa. man - was heading the wrong way on Interstate 78 when it hit an SUV around 5:35 a.m., then spun into the bus. He was pronounced dead a short time later, said Sgt. Stephen Jones, a state police spokesman.

An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

It's not clear why the driver was traveling in the wrong direction, Jones said, and no one aboard the bus - except for the driver, who sustained a broken ankle - was seriously injured.

It appears that for an unknown reason, the driver entered an emergency crossover lane near milepost 30 in the Somerset County community of Bedminster. He then stayed there a short time, then made a right turn and collided with the SUV moments later.

The bus was run off the highway into the woods, along with the car, which ended up underneath the bus. Neither the SUV driver nor their passenger were hurt, and their identities were not disclosed.

The bus driver, 72-year-old Richard Roach of New Kensington, Pa., was briefly trapped in the vehicle, Jones said. About a dozen passengers reported minor injuries, mostly bumps and bruises.

The bus, owned by Roenigk Coach Co. of Sarver, Pa., was headed from Pittsburgh to Brooklyn. Jones said there were 35 juveniles and 10 adults aboard the bus, which was part of a caravan of three buses headed to a religious event, but further details were not immediately available.

The crash shut down a stretch of the highway for a few hours, Jones said, adding that more than two dozen troopers are involved in the accident investigation.