Funeral held for Gina Pellettiere, beloved band director killed in Farmingdale bus crash

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Funeral held for beloved band director killed in Farmingdale bus crash
Farmingdale High School is closed Thursday, as friends, family, and students mourn the loss of beloved band director Gina Pellettiere. Anthony Carlo has the story.

MASSAPEQUA, New York (WABC) -- Farmingdale High School was closed Thursday, as friends, family, and students mourned the loss of beloved band director Gina Pellettiere.

More than 900 people filled Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Massapequa Park to say their last goodbye.

Pellettiere was tragically killed last week when a charter bus she was on blew a tire and careened off I-84 in Orange County. The bus was filled with students and school staff on Farmingdale's annual band camp trip to Pennsylvania.

The 43-year-old Massapequa mother and educator leaves behind a 2-year-old son.

The district closed schools because of the amount of students and staff who have been deeply impacted by the loss of Pellettiere and wanted to attend services.

A Nassau County police motorcade escorted the hearse carrying her casket.

Pellettiere excelled at trumpet and led Farmingdale High School's highly regarded wind ensemble to prestigious awards.

Perhaps what she was most proud of is how her energy, passion and leadership impacted so many kids' lives.

"Ms. P," as she was affectionately known by her students, spent more than a decade directing the band program at Farmingdale and helped to build it from the ground up. The Farmingdale marching band is now over 300 members strong.

Under her leadership, the Farmingdale wind ensemble earned ratings of 3 Golds and 10 Gold with distinctions at the highest level of the New York State School Music Association.

"Her support of these students-- it transcends the music on the paper every day, and she was the role model that a lot of music educators strive to be," said Jasmine Rodriguez, Pellettiere's mentee.

All across Long Island this week, students and educators wore green in solidarity with Farmingdale High School.

In lieu of flowers, Pellettiere's family is asking mourners to donate to the Farmingdale High School music program.

"She was a wonderful conductor. She had so much passion for her students. She was their biggest cheerleader," Rose Walker, Pelletierre's friend, said. "She had a love for music, her instruments from the time she was little. She had a smile that could melt your heart."

Beatrice Ferrari, retired teacher and dedicated trip chaperone, also died in the bus crash.

Ferrari's funeral was held Wednesday at St. Killian's Church. The 77-year-old retired social studies teacher enjoyed staying active with the band program.

Several students injured in the crash are still in the hospital. Though they are all expected to fully recover, they have suffered a very difficult loss.

ALSO READ | Farmingdale superintendent says students injured in bus crash expected to recover

A bus carrying Farmingdale High School students rolled down an embankment on I-84 in Wawayanda, Orange County on Thursday. Derick Waller has the latest.


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