It happened at about 7:45 p.m. Thursday on I-80 in Parsippany, Morris County.
An Adirondack Trailways bus carrying more than two dozen passengers was traveling eastbound near Exit 43 when it collided with the other vehicles, authorities said.
A passenger on the bus was ejected and landed in oncoming traffic. That victim, later identified as 21-year-old Brianna Herrera, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Herrera was a student at Syracuse who was on her way home to her family in Ozone Park, Queens, university officials confirmed.
A Morristown Medical Center spokeswoman says the hospital received 20 patients from the crash, ranging in conditions from fair to critical.
Most were treated and released, but three remain hospitalized. One of those patients is in critical condition, while the other two are in serious condition.
The bus was heading to New York City. There was no immediate word regarding where it originated.
Express lanes on I-80 were closed in both directions through the area, while local lanes remained open.
New Jersey State Police are investigating the accident.
Herrera was a senior in the School of Information Studies, majoring in information management and technology with a minor in public communications in the Newhouse School. She was also a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority.
A candlelight vigil was being held on the Syracuse campus Friday night, and grief counseling was being offered.
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