Grief counselors on hand at Farmingdale High school after bus crash kills 2, including band director

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, September 22, 2023
High school band director, retired teacher killed in bus crash
Two adults were killed in a deadly bus crash involving the Farmingdale High School band on I-84 in Orange County, New York. Anthony Carlo has more.

ORANGE COUNTY, New York (WABC) -- Counselors are on campus Friday as students continue to grieve and process the terrifying crash that claimed the lives of two people after a bus overturned on I-84 Thursday.

The bus was carrying students from Farmingdale High School in Nassau County to band camp in Pennsylvania when it careened off the highway and down an embankment.

Many of the students say they found about the horrific bus crash on social media or through texts.

The victims identified by authorities are Beatrice Ferarri, 77, of Farmingdale, and Gina Pellettiere, 43, of Massapequa.

Ferrari was a retired social studies teacher. The school district said she was the heart and soul of the marching band program.

"Her first priority in life was always her children and her husband, said friend Linda Leone. "She loved her friends."

Ferrari's family says they're in shock. She loved going to band camp.

"My youngest son is a junior. She (Ferrari) wanted to do it one more year to see him as a senior, but she never got that opportunity," Ferrari's son-in-law Daniel Aldieri said.

Pellettiere was the Marching Band and Wind Ensemble Director at Farmingdale High School. Her students called her Ms. P.

The school district says it will be there to provide support to students and staff.

Parents of students say when they told Pellettiere she had a great job, she would say, "I have the best job. What's better than teaching kids my passion?"

Pellettiere was not only a passionate teacher, but she was also a single mother of a 2-year-old.

Susan Perna's son and daughter were in Pellettiere's class. Perna says her son cried when he learned Pellettiere was killed in the accident.

"She's one of the reasons that I come to school and get to places 15 minutes before time," said Perna's son. "She was an inspiration to me. She was always happy, always positive, always passionate."

Anthony Marino, who graduated in 2018, said Pellettiere was a tour de force.

"I just want to thank Miss P for not only bringing music, helping bring music into my life, but for everyone else that she even just a little bit brought some music into, because I think that's important and she was really important and she's going to be incredibly missed," Marino said.

Pellettiere left a lasting impression on many people in her life, including her friend, Rose Walker.

"(She) had a love for instruments for music since she was little. Just had a smile that could melt your heart," said Walker.

WATCH | Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman provided an update on the bus crash on Eyewitness News Mornings @ 10:

Bruce Blakeman apears on Eyewitness News @ 10 to discuss the aftermath of the deadly bus crash carrying Farmingdale High School students on Thursday.

In addition to the two adults killed, five students were critically injured in the accident. In total, 40 students and four adults were on board at the time of the crash.

Many of the 40 students on the bus were freshmen, Hochul said. "They endured. They were strong," she said.

Farmingdale student Anthony Eugenio, 15, was asleep on the bus when he felt a thud and awoke to what he thought was a dream or nightmare. The bus felt as if it was tipping. Then he felt himself tumbling - how many times he can't recall - as he tried to pull his sweatshirt hood from over his eyes.

"Then everyone was yelling," he said. "The kid next to me was covered in blood. I saw blood everywhere."

He crawled out of the overturned bus through a window, dazed but only scraped and bruised. Once outside, he found his backpack, which had been thrown from the wreck, and his missing shoe.

Victims were transported to six different area hospitals for treatment.

The high school's football game on Friday night was postponed and grief counselors will be available at a nearby crisis center all weekend.

The school district is promising students and staff it will do all it can to help them through this.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ALSO READ | What we know about bus involved in deadly Orange County crash


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